Ep. 32: Bernie Gets It Done (w/ Warren Gunnels)

Nov. 12, 2019

Ep. 32: Bernie Gets It Done (w/ Warren Gunnels)

Brianna Joy Gray: Historically, running for president requires overcoming a gauntlet composed of prior bad acts, positions you've evolved, votes that are now regrettable, and friendships which now appear unsavory. It's all the more remarkable then that Bernie Sanders has had such a long career that he can run on, rather than run away from. You probably already know that Bernie has been fighting for the rights of others since he was a teenager. In 1963, as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, Bernie Sanders became a leader of the school's chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality or C.O.R.E.

C.O.R.E. was one of the leading activist organizations in the early years of the American Civil Rights Movement, and Bernie led his chapter in protesting housing segregation, police brutality and other racial inequalities. Getting arrested at age 21 in a picture, which you've probably seen, but which Bernie didn't even know existed until it was unearthed during the 2016 presidential race. But his advocacy didn't stop there.

In 1972, a year before Roe v. Wade, Bernie told Vermont's Bennington Banner newspaper that a woman's choice of what to do with her body should be exclusively between her and her doctor, not a bunch of predominantly male legislators. By contrast, nearly a decade later, another elder statesman in this race voted to let states overturn Roe v. Wade.

While others in this race had not yet chosen to engage meaningfully in politics, in the 1980s Bernie backed Burlington, Vermont's first ever gay pride parade and created the Burlington Community Land Trust, which became a model for promoting affordable housing all around the country.

Before the term climate change had even been coined, much less accepted as scientific consensus, Bernie was sounding the alarm.

Bernie Sanders: We face, as all people know, an ecological crisis in our time, whether it's acid rain, the destruction of the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect. One would think that the CBSs and the NBCs of the world would be doing prime time specials on these programs, having different scientists talking about the issues, involving people in understanding what's going on in terms of our planet. They don't.

Brianna Joy Gray: Records matter. Not because they absolve politicians of demonstrating contemporary commitment to the issues Americans care about, but because they tell us about judgment and dedication to principle. Certainly, it's better to evolve than to not evolve on issues. None of us is perfect, but Bernie has shown a remarkable amount of foresight. A tendency to do the right thing when it matters, when it's unpopular. A person's record also tells us where a leader's priorities lie and what they will push for when they're in office without the pressure of an electoral contest behind them, and at a time when many presidential candidates have only recently shifted left, a politician's record tells us who, to be frank, is the real deal.

I've often wondered if perhaps because Bernie's record is so uniquely solid, his detractors have taken to arguing that, sure, he might have been on the right side of history, but what has he really accomplished?

Speaker 3: What the hell has he done for the little people? What jobs has he created?

Speaker 4: For me, Bernie was a really interesting candidate who couldn't get stuff done.

Speaker 5: Bernie Sanders is, basically, promoting ideas that cannot happen unless you really did have a revolution.

Brianna Joy Gray: That's why today I resolved to put an end to this bad faith attack once and for all. If you've ever wondered if Bernie's ever managed to quote, get stuff done, buckle up, because this week I sat down with Bernie’s' Senior Policy Advisor, Warren Gunnels, a.k.a. the Chief of Receipts to set the record straight.

This is Hear the Bern, a podcast about the people, ideas and politics that are driving the Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign and the movement to secure identified life for everyone living in this country. My name is Brianna Joy Gray and I'm coming to you from campaign headquarters here in Washington, D.C.

Now, a podcast that covered Bernie's entire record would run to dozens of hours, but here's a quick, best of list before we get to Warren's interview. In 1999, Bernie worked with thousands of IBM workers to restore 320 million dollars in pension benefits that IBM management tried to cut.

Bernie Sanders: This meeting is being held because dozens and dozens and dozens of you have contacted my office to express your anger, your disappointment and your feelings of betrayal.

Brianna Joy Gray: That same year, Bernie led groups of Americans across the border to Canada to purchase prescription drugs, highlighting this country's unaffordable drug prices.

Bernie Sanders: And on that day, I will not forget the shock on their faces when they purchased Tamoxiphen, which is a widely prescribed breast cancer drug, for one tenth, one tenth of the price that they were paying in the state of Vermont.

Brianna Joy Gray: A day after Veteran's Day, it is timely to note that Bernie worked with Republican John McCain to pass the 2014 Veteran Healthcare Bill, which provided over 16 billion dollars to overhaul the VA, including hiring more doctors and nurses. A bill so good that Trump often takes credit for it.

Donald Trump: We passed VA choice, VA choice for the veterans.

Brianna Joy Gray: Bernie has successfully pressured Amazon to pay 350,000 workers at least $15 an hour via his Stop Bezos Act. He wrote and helped to pass the Yemen War Powers Resolution to end U.S. involvement in the disastrous war in Yemen.

Bernie Sanders: It's a big deal, because for the first time since 1973, we have used the War Powers Act to in fact stop a horrific war.

Brianna Joy Gray: Bernie expanded primary health care to 9 million Americans by expanding community health centers, securing 12 billion dollars in funding under the A.C.A.

Bernie Sanders: By increasing federal funding, our bill will allow more than 5 million Americans to receive the primary health care they need each and every year.

Brianna Joy Gray: And he forced the first ever audit of the Federal Reserve, which revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret loans used to bail out American and foreign banks during the recession. And it's not just what Bernie has done, but what he's opposed, too. Exercising judgment, which just can't be taught. Bernie voted against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. He opposed NAFTA, which has cost this country hundreds of thousands of jobs. He opposed the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. In fact, both Iraq wars.

And he has argued against mass incarceration since at least the early '90s and opposed ending Pell Grants to prisoners.

But don't just take my word for it. Few people know more about Bernie's record than his Senior Policy Advisor. So, without further delay, Bernie's 2020 Chief of Receipts, Warren Gunnels.

There's a reason why you're called the Chief of Receipts.

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: And the reason is that when people have questions about Bernie Sanders' record-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...when they have thoughts and feelings and some people want to cast aspersions and say, "Well, Bernie hasn't really done anything. What has Bernie been up to all those years in politics?" You are the one who is reliably there to set the record straight. So, we wanted to have you on the podcast today to really lay down the law. Really make the record clear for any who would come asking going forward.

Warren Gunnels: All right. That's sounds great. Let's do it.

Brianna Joy Gray: Let's do it. No. I want to start by just asking you, like, how long have you known the senator? How long have you been in his orbit?

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. So, I first started working for Bernie on June 15th of 1999.

Brianna Joy Gray: That's specific.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: The receipts started already. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: Oh, yeah, yeah. I got a receipt for that. [laughs] It's on my pay stub. You can check it out. [laughs]

Brianna Joy Gray: Love it. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: [laughs] I was working for Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa. There was a defense L.A. that had worked for Congressman DeFazio for Oregon for a while and he said that, "Well, there's this congressman from Vermont. He caucuses with the Democrats, but he is an independent. His name is Bernie Sanders. He's looking for a legislative assistant."

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: So, I had an interview with Bernie back in June of '99, and he, he mentioned, I think, " Well, how do you feel about labor unions?"

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: And I said, "Well, I think unions are really the backbone of the American economy. That's, it's the backbone, for the middle class." I gave Bernie some of the work that I did for Senator Harkin going against Alan Greenspan. Luckily enough for me, he, he gave me a call, I think a few days later, and asked me to come on board his house office and, started working for him as a legislative assistant.

Brianna Joy Gray: So, so, pro tip, to get a job with Bernie Sanders-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...take on the establishment and you talk up unions.

Warren Gunnels: That's exactly right.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: Yes. [laughs] That's exactly how you get a job-

Brianna Joy Gray: Okay. Take, taking notes. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: ...from Bernie Sanders. Yes. [laughs]

Brianna Joy Gray: All right. So, like, do you remember first impressions temperamentally? Did you have thoughts and feelings like, "Oh, am I gonna, how am I gonna work with this guy?" And how much do you think he's, that impression has changed now that you've known him for 20 years?

Warren Gunnels: Oh, I mean, I wanted to work for a congressman who was very active in fighting, for an economy that works for all of us. not just the people on top.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: I had been going up against Alan Greenspan and I- I- I don't know if, you know, Alan Greenspan, he was the long-time chair of the Federal Reserve. Didn't matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican in Congress, most of them, you know, kissed Alan Greenspan's feet. They thought whatever he said was, was the way it should be in life. I didn't like that.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: I knew he had this Ayn Rand philosophy-

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ...of total deregulation. Massive tax breaks for the wealthy and that's how you'll expand the economy because everything will trickle down.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: And Bernie, course, understood that. He [chuckles] never bought in to Alan Greenspan for one second, and after I started working for him, Bernie got Greenspan to admit that he wanted to abolish the minimum wage.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Warren Gunnels: And-

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] Wow.

Warren Gunnels: So, so this is, this is like-

Brianna Joy Gray: How do you get him to admit that?

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: Is that on tape somewhere?

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. Well, he's... Oh, yeah, sure it's on tape. You go back to the hearings that Bernie had, really the banking committee hearings, that Bernie had questioning Alan Greenspan, he just asked him straight out, "Alan Greenspan, do you believe in the concept of the minimum wage?" And he kind of hemmed and hawed and he said, "No, if I had my druthers," I'm paraphrasing, "No. There would be no minimum wage in this country." And so, I- I- I just don't understand. If you're, if you're a Democrat, how could you believe in the gospel of Alan Greenspan when he wants to abolish the minimum wage, he wants to deregulate big banks and he wants these massive tax breaks for the rich. I just-

Brianna Joy Gray: So, so now, you know, especially post 2008-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...you know, a lot of our norms, what we ex... You know, the, the settled expectations, in the financial realm have shifted dramatically.

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: And now, since 2016, since Bernie Sanders has run, our expectations of what we think is, should be the status quo as a society, both with respect to how we treat finance and how we treat each other more broadly-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...have changed radically. But what was it like to be in the trenches in the '90s and the early aughts?

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. During those times in, in the House days, Bernie was a master at forming left/right coalitions to pass amendments to help the working people of this country. So, one of the first, big tasks that I had working for Bernie was, in 1999, IBM was Vermont's largest private employer. And they had just announced that they were going to be making changes to their pension benefits. And they were kind of touting this as, this is a great thing for the workers at IBM. They'll get these wonderful benefits. We're going to change it from a traditional Defined Benefit Plan. They made up this name, this Cash Balance Plans. It sounds like you're going to get all of this cash. Well, IBM workers are very smart. They know how to do numbers.

Brianna Joy Gray: [chuckles]

Warren Gunnels: So, they took a look at the new plan and they found out that for older workers, it would amount to about a 50% cut to their pension benefits.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Warren Gunnels: And these are, you know, I mean, very conservative workers making decent wages, but at any rate, when they saw that the IBM management wanted to cut older workers' pensions by about 50%, they came to Bernie Sanders. They called and they called and they called to complain about what IBM was doing to their pension benefits. If you know Bernie- [chuckles]

Brianna Joy Gray: [chuckles]

Warren Gunnels: ...if the phone starts ringing off the hook with a bunch of workers that are about to get their pensions cut by 50%, that is what Bernie will focus on. And said that, "Look. Warren, we gotta do something about this. We can't let older workers that have been working for a company for 20 or 30 years in IBM see their pension benefits cut 50%."

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: So, we, we did this legislation, introduced legislation to protect their pension benefits saying that, "Look, if you wanted to have a choice, you, you could have a choice. If you wanted to take their new Cash Balance Benefit Plan, you could choose that. If you wanted the traditional Defined Benefit Plan, you could keep that." And so, we did that legislation, but with most members of Congress, they get these calls, from workers, they'll introduce a legislation, maybe. They might write a letter to the CEO, maybe.

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: They may do a press release on, "Oh, I wrote to the CEO of some company saying, 'Please, please, please, can you protect these workers that are complaining. They, they don't like what they're getting.'" But Bernie's not like that. A- a- a- a- and then after that, and so, it's, it's all about that, you know, so we did write letters.

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: We did introduce legislation. We did do amendments, but we didn't stop there. Most members of Congress, after they introduce legislation, "Well, I, I introduced legislation."

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: "See, I got this legislation. The Republicans, who are in control of Congress, they're not going to allow this legislation to pass. I tried my best."

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: That's not Bernie. Bernie got a Town Hall meeting in St. Michael's College in August of '99. We got CBS Nightly News-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...to be there. We got The New York Times to cover it. When we're going to the Town Hall meeting in, you know, Bernie's car, we get to the parking lot and we couldn't find a parking space. Bernie's like, "What are all of these cars doing here?"

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: And Phil Fiermonte, he was one of Bernie's long-time aides, he said to Bernie, "Bernie, I think they're here to see you-"

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: ..."to complain about IBM's pension benefits." So, there were well over 800 people in a very small auditorium in St. Michael's College to protest IBM's pension cuts.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Bernie Sanders: I had invited Lou Gerstner, who is, as you know, the CEO of IBM, to be with us tonight. In fact, we've left a chair for Lou. So, it's a... So, if you, if you hear a helicopter buzzing abroad, clear the way and Lou's on his way, but...

Warren Gunnels: It was the largest Town Hall at the time, I think, in the modern history in the state of Vermont.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] Wow.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. CBS covered it. New York Times had a big page of all, it was like, it looked like a sea of people at this Town Hall meeting. IBM workers complaining. And then Bernie, it's, it's the first time, I- I- believe that he bought shares of IBM stock, bought five shares of IBM stock, so he could go to the IBM stockholders' meeting-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...and protest these cuts right in the face of IBM's CEO, Lou Gerstner. Lou Gerstner, as the time they were cutting these pension benefits of ordinary workers, he got this huge pension benefit, tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars-

Brianna Joy Gray: Of course.

Warren Gunnels: ...for himself, but he was deciding to cut these workers' pension benefits by 50%. So, Bernie traveled to the stockholder meeting in Cleveland to protest with the workers. We did amendments in a Republican Congress. We got, we worked with a Republican congressman from Minnesota, his name was Gil Gutknecht.

Brianna Joy Gray: 'Kay.

Warren Gunnels: He, at first, very right-wing Republican congressman, didn't want anything to do with us.

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: He had a Town Hall meeting of his own that the IBM workers at, in his district forced him to have. He didn't want to have it.

Brianna Joy Gray: Interesting.

Warren Gunnels: And so, they told him that, when he asked, "Well, what do you want me to do about this?" "We want you to work with Bernie Sanders."

Brianna Joy Gray: Huh.

Warren Gunnels: "Bernie Sanders has a bill that will protect our pension benefits." And he said, "Bernie Sanders? Do you know? He's a socialist."

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: "I don't want to work with Bernie Sanders." And the IBM workers, in response, now, I wasn't there, but this is what they told me, they said, "I don't care if Bernie Sanders is purple and is from Mars."

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: He has got a bill that will protect our pension benefits. He is fighting for us. We want you to stand with Bernie Sanders to try to get this legislation through." And, and so he did.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Warren Gunnels: So, he did. He started working with us and he was a major ally. We got an amendment passed that essentially said, "IBM shall not discriminate against older workers in their pension benefits. That those pension benefits..." And it wasn't just IBM, there were a number of other companies that were doing the same thing, but IBM was, was our big focus.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: And so, we ended up, in a Republican Congress, winning that amendment and that really helped, because the IBM workers, they were launching a lawsuit against IBM for committing age discrimination against the older workers. And once we passed that in a Republican Congress, there was about a week later, IBM settled with the IBM workers. So, 130,000 IBM workers were able to regain 320 million dollars in pension benefits.

Brianna Joy Gray: See, that's extraordinary. In part because of how it predicts the legacy that was to come.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right? How much it predicts what Bernie Sanders has done with Amazon workers in the Stop Bezos Act.

Warren Gunnels: Right. Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: And how much it predicts what he's done with Walmart workers. Right? And the fact that, that history, people have the temerity to downplay it-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...or to pretend that being known as the Amendment King is some kind of, almost like a smear.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: Like, why just an amendment? Right?

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Like, can you help us to understand how passing legislation works and what it means to be able to get things done by using both amendments and by using the pressure of the people?

Warren Gunnels: Right, right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Because he's talked about doing that a lot right now as well. Going to Mitch McConnell's district, having Town Halls-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...forcing people who are not ideologically aligned-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...to do what they should do because their actual constituents demand it. Why is that so important given how Congress works and how difficult it is to get things passed otherwise?

Warren Gunnels: Well, it's extremely important. It's, both an inside the beltway strategy, but you can't just leave it inside the beltway. It's got to be outside the beltway. If IBM workers never decided to pick up the phone and call Bernie Sanders' office-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...their pensions would have been cut by 50%. If all Bernie did was just introduce legislation and drop a pet press release saying that this legislation will protect their pensions and did nothing else, the IBM workers probably would have had their pensions cut by up to 50%.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: But it was working together, it was working together to have the IBM worker get on the phone, contact Bernie's office. Bernie then introducing legislation, holding Town Hall meetings, going to the IBM stockholder's meeting, working with IBM workers, not just in his own state of Vermont, where he represents, but finding out where do these other IBM workers live, to find out where the strong, ah, where, where some of the big pockets of IBM workers are in Republican districts, and then reaching out to those IBM workers to say, "We held a town meeting in Vermont. We got over 800 people." And we were getting Senator Leahy and Senator Jeffords on our side at that time. "Why don't you get a whole bunch of IBM workers in your district and hold a Town Hall meeting in one of the most conservative Republican districts..." Well, it was the Congressman was one of the most conservative in Congress. "Get him to say, 'You need to work with Bernie Sanders. You need to work with us on this legislation. You need to tell the CEO of IBM that it's unacceptable for him to get hundreds of millions of dollars in pension benefits in a compensation package, while he's turning around and slashing his workers' pension benefits.'" And then it's also going through the courts. You know, saying, "Look, what happened here was age discrimination, pure and simple."

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: "So, launch a lawsuit against IBM for committing age discrimination." So, it was a multifaceted strategy, ah, and then, of course, we got the media.

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: It was like, you know, we, we wanted to make sure. "Look, New York Times, are you going to cover this? We got, you know, 800, 850 IBM workers that are upset that their pensions are being cut. CBS Evening News, will you cover this?"

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: And, you know, work, so it was all of that strategy. It wasn't just dropping a bill. It wasn't just writing a letter. It wasn't just having a meeting. All of those different elements were involved to succeed.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: And some people will say, "Oh, well, Bernie Sanders didn't do that. It was the IBM workers. You can't say that that's something that Bernie Sanders accomplished. It was the IBM workers." Yeah, not me, us.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: It was everybody-

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: ...working together on a mission to protect the pensions of workers. That's, that's, that's what Bernie's movement is all about.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right. So, we're talking about this idea of, like, Bernie Sanders as an organizer and chief. You know, I was actually listening to a podcast from the Vox family, somebody says, "You know, Bernie, you know, Bernie's gonna lose the argument about, Medicare for All because he's not a lawyer.

Warren Gunnels: [chuckles]

Brianna Joy Gray: He's just an organizer.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah, yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: He's just an organizer. He doesn't know how to get into the technocratic weeds-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...as us other people do. There are people, other technocrats, generally speaking-

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...who don't perceive that his organizing strategy, his ability to mobilize people, his, ability to construct policies in a way that facilitate the formation of broad coalitions-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...as political strategy.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: They write that off as somehow not kind of intellectually rigorous or as politically equal-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...to those who come, would focus rather on kind of white papers and-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...a more technocratic approach. And it's not that we don't obviously have the plans.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right?

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: You know more than anyone-

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...that we do. But it's-

Warren Gunnels: And that, that does drive-

Brianna Joy Gray: But it's the-

Warren Gunnels: ...me a little crazy.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. [laughs]

Brianna Joy Gray: It must. But it's that, it's that and is a, an additional component that Bernie has in spades-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and that it's absolutely necessary if you actually do want to get things done.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. No, ab- absolutely. I mean, I don't know how many times Bernie has, has told me, "Warren, anybody can write a bill in Congress. Anybody can introduce an amendment. Anybody can write a press release on this. What is the strategy? I want to win." It's not just IBM and Amazon. Amazon's case, this is another perfect example of Bernie's accomplishments. Amazon workers came to us, they said, "It's outrageous that we're working 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week. We make wages that are so low, that the taxpayers of this country are subsidizing our health care through Medicaid. They're subsidizing our housing through, you know, Section 8, rental assistance or some other forms, of, of housing assistance. We can't even afford to put food on the table so we're, we're getting food stamps from the federal government that's being subsidized by middle class taxpayers. Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person in, in the United States, eh, not only, like, eh, this year, eh, it's like, eh, of all time."

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: You know? I mean, at the time he- he-, I think he had 150 billion dollars. Now, oh my gosh, it's something around 112 billion dollars.

Brianna Joy Gray: Jesus.

Warren Gunnels: But it's an unbelievable wealth and, "Can you help us out? Can you do something about that?" So, we introduced this legislation and it was called the Stop Bezos Act and what we said is, "Well, look, if you've got a profitable corporation, large corporation that are paying workers wages so low that they're on Medicaid, food stamps-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...Section 8, public housing, so forth. You have to pay a tax to make sure that you're the ones that are responsible for paying for your worker's health care, food, housing, etc., etc., not middle-class taxpayers." And so, the goal of that legislation, we knew, we're working, we're working in a Republican Senate. Mitch McConnell was not going to bring the Stop Bezos Act to the floor of the Senate to get a vote. Right?

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: But we wanted to focus on an issue of Amazon paying poverty level wages at a time when the owner is the wealthiest person in this country. So, yes, we introduced the legislation. All the policy wonks went nuts, "Oh, they're all these unintended consequences of this bill. Oh, no. Oh, you're demonizing people that are on Medicaid and, food stamps, and you're endangering the food stamp program by coming out with this bill, because look at on page five, line eight it will just have these huge, unintended consequences. Are you crazy? You should be doing something else. Bernie Sanders just doesn't understand the legislative process. He doesn't understand all these unintended consequences." And, no, that was not, we knew that we were not going to get the Stop Bezos Act into law, but by putting that out there, it got media attention. The media started to focus on the poverty wages that Amazon workers were being paid. Now, we didn't stop there. We ha- have just a spectacular social media team. Right? I mean, you, you know them all.

Brianna Joy Gray: Absolutely.

Warren Gunnels: You could go through all their names, but it was just not one person.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: But they had worker after worker after worker to get on camera-

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: ...to be filmed, to talk about their poverty wages. Those videos that we did, I mean, they, they went viral.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: I mean, millions and millions and millions of people saw those videos. They got a huge number of likes and retweets. They're on Facebook, they're on Twitter, they're all over the place. Then Bernie took it to another level. We had a, a Town Hall meeting in the Senate, never been done before, on, income inequality, and we had a worker from Amazon, had a worker from Disney, and we had a worker from Walmart, and then, we had one, I believe, for American Airlines or, a subsidiary of American Airlines. All to talk about how they were making poverty level wages, and then we invited the CEOs, of course, of all those companies-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: to come in and to explain to the, the American people why their, all their companies were making these huge profits, but they were paying their workers-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...poverty level wages. Of course, none of the CEOs-

Brianna Joy Gray: Showed up.

Warren Gunnels: ...decided to show up.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: And Jeff Bezos didn't decide to show up. We invited Jeff Bezos. That didn't work, but, but, again, think well over a million people saw that Town Hall. It was in the visitor center in, in the Capitol that was broadcast live, again, putting more and more and more pressure on Amazon, eh, some of these other companies, as well. I mean, we have, there's a McDonald's worker there-

Brianna Joy Gray: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Warren Gunnels: ...as well as we're working on this. After all that relentless push and pressure and focusing on the workers, it was the workers that got up and, told Jeff Bezos and told their managers that, eh, this is just an absurd situation. And then, one day, it was, I think, a few weeks, maybe, a couple months after we passed the Stop Bezos Act, that Jeff Bezos announced, "We've listened to our critics and we've decided to increase the minimum wage to $15 and hour, effective immediately that would benefit 350,000 workers."

Brianna Joy Gray: Whoof.

Warren Gunnels: 350,000

Brianna Joy Gray: That's amazing.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: That's politics.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: They don't teach you that in law school. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: No. [laughs] They don't teach you that in law school. You're absolutely right. So, yeah, but maybe there was some unintended consequences on page five, line 15 of some bill, but you know what? I- it didn't matter because-

Brianna Joy Gray: There was some very intended consequences-

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...on people's pay checks.

Warren Gunnels: Exact... You got it.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] Right.

Warren Gunnels: That's absolutely right. That's absolutely right.

Brianna Joy Gray: So-

Warren Gunnels: And, yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: That, I mean, but that, I think that that, that the story of how Bernie Sanders has worked to way, raise wages across several different, at several different companies at this point-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative], Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...is, exemplifies exactly the kind of power that his presidency will have, because he's not even-

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...before he's even in office, he's able to leverage his visibility-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and leverage the incredible need and desire from working people in America, to have this stuff seen.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: To create the crowds, to create the Town Halls-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...to create the interest to, to, to act as a lightning rod-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...for the interest that already exists and mobilize people so that, that they can no longer be ignored.

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: It, it sounds like there's a little bit of celebration going on next door. I think that the organizing team is doing something good.

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: Which is always cause for celebration, so-

Warren Gunnels: That's great.

Brianna Joy Gray: Well, we'll tolerate a little noise in the background of this podcast to-

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...to know that we're accomplishing big things.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: But I want to ask you, like, for those who are unconvinced-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...by this kind of argument about the merit of political organizing-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and how we should think differently. I think that the, the moral of the story is perhaps, we need to start thinking differently about how we measure accomplishment.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: And, you can measure it by how many bills somebody has passed-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...or you can measure it by how many lives have been changed.

Warren Gunnels: Yep.

Brianna Joy Gray: You can measure about things that you've done affirmatively, but you can also-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...measure, measure it by the judgment that you expressed in the past that enabled you to not vote for, support things that-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...history has, time has shown us were, in fact, incredibly detrimental to Americans and people across the world.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: So, can you give us some instances, some of those more traditional instances-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...of judgment that Bernie has displayed in other kinds of concrete things that have happened-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: .,.that are kind of like the best of in your opinion?

Warren Gunnels: Right. Okay, okay. So, eh, I mean, I think what you are, what you're saying is very important. You can then judge somebody by the number of bills that they've passed. Right? In that perspective, look at all of the major bills that have passed in, the last 30 or 40 years. Yeah, Bernie did not accomplish the Iraq War Resolution. Yeah, that did not have Bernie Sanders' name on it. I don't even know, eh, eh, you can look up who the author of the resolution to go to war in Iraq was, but I can tell you one thing. It wasn't Bernie Sanders.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: A- and that is a very good thing. Not only did Bernie vote against the Iraq War, he stood up on the floor, he led the effort against going to war-

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ...in Iraq and it ended up being the right thing. I mean, we're talking about, at a minimum, I think these are conservative estimates, but 165,000 civilians died in Iraq. You know, you had over 45 hundred troops, maybe even, ah, ah, ah 4.000 more, contractors, military contractors of the United States, they died. You know 32,000 wounded-

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ...coming back, wounded, not only and, and God knows how many, wounded in spirit, maybe not in their body-

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ...but they had these traumatic, eh, brain injuries, they have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: How many lives did that destroy? And Bernie was getting up, and he was like, "No. You can't do this. This makes no sense."

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: He led the effort against the Iraq War Resolution. If you want to say, "Oh, Bernie didn't accomplish anything because, eh, eh, his name is not on the Iraq War Resolution." We plead guilty.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: You know? Look at NAFTA.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: All right. Bernie's name is not on the bill to implement the North American Free Trade Agreement, and that's a good thing.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: And not only the, is Bernie's name not on it, not only did he vote against it, he stood up on the picket lines with union workers, standing up and saying, "No. If NAFTA passes, we're talking about hundreds of thousands, if not a million jobs, being lost, being shut down in the United States. Factories closing down, going to Mexico where workers are paid a buck, two bucks an hour to do the same thing that workers in Michigan or Ohio-"

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ..."were doing for 20, 25 bucks."

Brianna Joy Gray: And that's a contrast-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...that Donald Trump ran on-

Warren Gunnels: That's right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and that he drew with Hillary Clinton that he would not have been able to have drawn, to draw with Bernie Sanders-

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...if he was their nominee.

Warren Gunnels: I mean, absolutely. You look at NAFTA, you look at Permanent, Normal Trade Relations with China. Yeah, I remember, I, and I remember this with NAFTA as well, but Permanent, Normal Trade Relations with China in '99 and 2000, Bill Clinton said, "Oh, this is a hundred to nothing shot in favor of the United States and the United States workers. China will not benefit at all from Permanent, Normal Trade Relations with China."

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: "This is all about protecting the United States." And Bernie stood up with the Teamsters at a huge rally in Washington, D.C., I was there. I, thousands and thousands and thousands of workers were saying, "No. What this is gonna do is gonna allow huge corporations to shut down factories in the United States, move to China, where workers are paid pennies an hour and bring back those products into the United States tariff free or virtually tariff free. The corporate CEOs will make huge profits and the workers will be screwed."

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: And that's what happened. We're talking about, since the passage of Permanent, Normal Trade Relations with China, the unfettered free trade agreement with China, 3.4 million Americans lost their jobs.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Warren Gunnels: And Bernie was leading the effort against those unfettered free trade agreements and, no, yeah, I mean, if he did go up against Donald Trump, eh, eh, it was a clear contrast. I mean, Bernie was leading the effort against the Trans-Pacific Partnership at that time, another unfettered free trade agreement, thank God, and this is a grass roots movement that killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that would have been a, a, allow, making it easier for corporations to set up shop in Vietnam, where workers are paid about 65 cents an hour. Go to Malaysia, where they have a, a huge influx of workers, indentured servants that aren't even paid anything. And it's one thing, to w-, be, have American workers compete against low wage workers. You go to Malaysia; they're competing against no wage workers.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: So, you know, he was, standing up against that, and I think that is, that is the clearest contrast. And you look at this, this election coming up, if the Democratic nominee is somebody that has a history of voting for NAFTA and in this year saying, "Oh my gosh, no, it wasn't a wrong vote to vote for NAFTA. That was the right vote. That's the right decision. Oh, China's not eating our lunch. They're not a major competitor. The vote for Permanent, Normal Trade Relations with China, that wasn't a bad vote." If that is our nominee going up against Donald Trump, now Donald Trump just lies.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: I mean, he lies all the time. He's a pathological liar.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: I mean, he acts like, "Oh, I'm against NAFTA. I'm against all these unfettered free trade agreements." But you look at his record, last year we had a record-breaking trade deficit in, in goods. Our trade deficit with China was up by hundreds of billions of dollars last year.

Brianna Joy Gray: Wow.

Warren Gunnels: Our trade deficit with Mexico last year was up, and then you look at the contracts that Donald Trump has awarded to large corporations. Turns out, he has provided over 50 billion dollars in contracts to some of the largest outsourcers of American jobs, and one of them, of course, we all remember General Motors. I mean they shut down the Lordstown plant.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: Bernie had a big Town Hall-

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: With those, Lordstown workers. General Motors shut down that plant and Donald Trump said, "Oh, you don't have to worry about your, selling your house. Keep your house. I'm, eh, president. We're going to keep that Lordstown plant open." Well, it shut down and what did Donald Trump do? He didn't protect those worker's jobs. He rewarded General Motors with over 700 million dollars in federal contracts. Bernie's not going to do that.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: When Bernie is president, he's going to sign an executive order to tell companies that if they want these huge, federal contracts, they cannot ship jobs overseas and they gotta bring the jobs they outsourced back into the United States.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right, right.

Warren Gunnels: We want, we want to be providing contracts to employers that are doing the right thing by their workers, not shipping their jobs to low wage countries.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right. Moreover, we're getting that, workers more of a voice on corporate boards by-

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...actually enabling them to vote and participate in the proc-, the decision-making process-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...when it comes to deciding whether or not it's, they're gonna pursue raw profits or try to keep the jobs there for their families.

Warren Gunnels: Right. Right, right. So, that's, that's, that's big, yeah, so 20% of the stock of large corporations are going to go into the hands of the workers instead of these wealthy shareholders and, corporate executives. We're going to put 45% of workers on the board of directors. So, you've got 45% of the workers on the board of directors, you have 20% of the stock going directly to the workers. Well, when workers have more of a stake in the say in the companies they own, they're not going to ship their own jobs to China. They're not going to ship their own jobs to Mexico. They're not going to put up with a situation where the workforce is making poverty wages while the corporation is making billions in profits. They're not going to be spending billions and billions and billions of dollars on stock buy backs-

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: ...while their workers are, are living in poverty.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: No. These corporations are going to be more in tune with the workers and the workers are going to, enjoy more of the benefits of, of the profits they're, actually, they're the ones that are making the profits-

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: ...for the corporations.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah. I, I think that's such an important point because there's a way that we could talk about, "Oh, Bernie says he's gonna go and hold these Town Halls and go to Mitch McConnell's back yard-"

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ..."front yard, whatever, and do all this stuff." And you might say, "Okay, well, anybody can do that." And I've heard, and, and I won't name their names-

Warren Gunnels: Uh-huh [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...but another candidate in this race, recently started saying that exact same thing.

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: Like, fully just lifted from Bernie Sanders saying, "Well, I'll go to so and so's house-"

Warren Gunnels: [laughs]

Brianna Joy Gray: and I'm going to hold a rally and that's how I'm going to get things done."

Warren Gunnels: yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: But I think what's important to note is what enables Bernie to do that.

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: What enables him to be able to galvanize the people in support of, of him-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...is that the underlying policies that he's proposing, the underlying solutions that he's proposing-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...are so people centered.

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely.

Brianna Joy Gray: It only works, you can, you can motivate people to show up in Mitch McConnell's front yard when you're saying, "Hey, I'm about to put 40 percent of y'all on the corporate board."

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: I [laughs] about to give you-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...a 20, 20% share of, of stock, you know.

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: That would, I mean, it literally doubles your wages almost with the $15 minimum wage.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right?

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: That is the kind of thing that can motivate folks and saying, "I think, you know, act-, you're going to get maybe X, Y, Z tax credit-"

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ..."or we're gonna give this percentage of you, we're gonna cut your, your gonna-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...gonna forgive your student debt, but only if you work in this, field for this many number of years and only up to this point."

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: You know, that kind of thing doesn't translate.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right? And so-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...the combination of being people focused in your agenda-

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ,,,and also having the strategy that requires that commitment and support from the people. It's a two-pronged approach.

Warren Gunnels: Absolutely, absolutely. And the, I mean, this is Bernie Sanders' M.O. You've got to have a clear agenda. We're gonna make public colleges and universities tuition free and we're going to cancel all student debt and we're going to pay for it by tax on the same, speculators on Wall Street that destroyed the economy 11 years ago.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: All right? Everybody can understand that.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yep.

Warren Gunnels: We've got the legislation on that, but it's not just, "Oh, we're gonna write the legislation. I'll hold a press conference in the Rose Garden."

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: And, yeah, you got all these pundits on, MSNBC and CNN saying, "Oh, it'll never happen." And then you have these [inaudible 00:44:50] Senators that say, "Oh, I'm just going to block this. We're not going to hold any hearings. There you go. End of story. And then we'll move on to the next piece of agenda. Oh, well, we tried. I sent the legislation to the Senate. I sent the legislation to the House. They didn't act on it. I tried my best."

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: That's, that's the situation that we have now. It's not the situation that we'll have when Bernie Sanders is president. He won't allow it. He's gonna go to every state. He'll go to every college campus if he has to.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: And not only that, it's not like Bernie Sanders going to the college campus, it'll be like, "Okay, I'm at your college campus, but on March 15th I'm gonna get Chuck Schumer, whoever the majority leader of the Senate is, I'm going to get Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, whoever the Speaker of the House is, and I'm going to say, 'You've got to schedule a vote on March 15th to make public colleges and universities tuition free, to cancel student debt.' I got the pay it for in here. We're going after the Wall Street speculators, and by the way, on that same day, we're gonna get, you know, a million students to come out to Washington and we're gonna, tell you, leaders or the Republican and Democratic party in Congress, 'Look out the window.'"

Brianna Joy Gray: That question of the pay for-

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...is one that we get a lot, I mean, weekly.

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: And, you know, when it first started bubbling up again over the last couple of weeks, I said, "Let me go to this, let me go to this website."

Warren Gunnels: All right.

Brianna Joy Gray: "I'm gonna, I'm gonna read this damn bill."

Warren Gunnels: All right. Good.

Brianna Joy Gray: "I'm so sick and tired of this." And I pulled it up and I gotta tell you, as you know, it is lengthy.

Warren Gunnels: [laughs]

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] The, the actual Medicare for All Bill [inaudible 00:46:34].

Warren Gunnels: It's a hundred pages.

Brianna Joy Gray: This is not my approach.

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: This is not the best way to do this.

Warren Gunnels: Right, right.

Brianna Joy Gray: So, I want to ask you as somebody who was in there writing, writing this, this damn bill, who's been in there since the jump, what do you make of this, this focus on the paid for that seems to be uneven, let's say?

Warren Gunnels: All right.

Brianna Joy Gray: and what do you say to folks that say, that pretend, you know, "Bernie Sanders isn't as detailed."

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: "Bernie Sanders hasn't figured out all the wa-..." I mean-"

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...you know, it's maybe wonkier to take us through this process.

Warren Gunnels: Okay. All right. So, so, Medicare for All, first of all, it's a hundred-page bill. It's very detailed. Since the last campaign, we have been providing a menu of options on how to finance Medicare for All, but the first that you have to understand is, we are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care as a right to all people. So, we've got 87 million American uninsured and underinsured. And then, step two, "Well, okay, well, so we don't, guarantee health care as a right, we must be spending a lot less money than all these other countries on a per capita basis that have figured out how to provided universal health care to all, that must be what it is. All of these other countries, yeah, they're providing health care to everybody, but it's really a heck of a lot money, they're spending a heck of a lot more money than we are." And that's absolutely false. When you look at it, we're spending over twice as much per person on health care as the average developed country. We're spending over twice as much as Canada, Britain, France on health care. They're providing health care to everybody. We're leaving 87 million Americans uninsured and underinsured. Don't tell me we can't figure out how to guarantee health care as a right to everybody and do it in a much more cost-effective way than we're currently doing it.

So, Medicare for All starts out, it's a single payer health care system. You get everybody on the same health insurance program. You have the biggest pool possible. That's gonna cut down on the administrative expenses. You're not going to have hundreds or thousands of different private health insurance plans to figure out. "Oh, this one's got a $5,000 deductible. This one's got a $8,000 deductible. This one covers that. This one doesn't cover that."

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: No, everybody's gonna get universal comprehensive health care. It's gonna be much more cost effective. So, we started off, we're gonna provide better health care at a lower cost. It's gonna be much cheaper than our current system. If we do nothing, we're gonna spend over 50 trillion dollars over 10 years. This will save, according to conservative estimates, 2 trillion, more progressive estimates, 5 trillion over 10 years. So, we've got a menu of options. Nobody's gonna be paying premiums, deductibles or co-payments and then we're going to fund it in a progressive way based on the ability to pay. You can look at several studies from the Citizens for Tax Justice. You can look at the Rand Corporation. You can look at a number of other studies. What they've shown is that if you enact Medicare for All, middle class families are gonna save thousands of dollars a year compared to what they're spending now. They're gonna be getting better care, because we're gonna be providing dental care. We're gonna be providing mental health care. We're gonna be providing eye care and vision care, and hearing aids.

Brianna Joy Gray: And just to clarify-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...when we say that we're gonna pay for something in a progressive way-

Warren Gunnels: Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Brianna Joy Gray: ...what we mean is to say that people who have more money, pay more-

Warren Gunnels: That's right.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and people who have less money, pay less.

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: Because there are ways, you know, some people talk about like a flat tax or [inaudible 00:50:20]-

Warren Gunnels: Right. or a head tax.

Brianna Joy Gray: Or a head tax, right.

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Which says, "Well, if everyone's paying the same amount, what that means is that amount is gonna impact poor people much, much more-

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...than it impacts wealthier people."

Warren Gunnels: Right.

Brianna Joy Gray: And we call that a regressive.

Warren Gunnels: Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: I'm sorry to be so basic-

Warren Gunnels: No, it's very regressive.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...but a lot of people don't-

Warren Gunnels: That's right.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: That's right. Yeah, yeah. No, if you just say, "Okay, every, all corporations and businesses are gonna pay head tax and it's gonna be the same amount no matter if you're making $15,000 a year or if you're making $400,000 a year." And we'll say, like right now, the head tax is 95 hundred dollars. So, you've got a 95-hundred-dollar head tax on somebody that's making $15,000. So, it costs 95 hundred dollars for health care for a worker that's making $15,000, probably a part-time worker.

Brianna Joy Gray: Yeah.

Warren Gunnels: Then you have a lawyer making $400,000, it will cost the same 95 hundred for the $400,000 worker versus the one that's just making $15,000. So, that is extremely regressive. We don't do that.

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: Every option that we propose, the wealthiest people in this country, they're gonna be paying a hell of a lot more in taxes to finance Medicare for All, but low income, middle income workers will be seeing, what economists, the- the- these economists, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman-

Brianna Joy Gray: Right.

Warren Gunnels: ...from the University of Cal- California Berkeley, they wrote in op-ed in The Guardian, saying, essentially, that Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All plan is financed in a progressive fashion that would lead to the largest increase in take home pay in a generation for most workers, and that's what this is all about.

Brianna Joy Gray: So, I, I really appreciate you coming, talking about white papers, bringing the literal receipts. [laughs]

Warren Gunnels: Yeah, don't, don't read my handwriting. My handwriting is horrible.

Brianna Joy Gray: And we didn't even get through all of these-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah. Yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...but we will, we will try to summarize them at the top of the episode and do some bullet point, rapid fires-

Warren Gunnels: That'd be great.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...because the, the truth is that the idea that Bernie Sanders has somehow been resting on his laurels-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...for the last 40 years of his life is nothing short of a lie.

Warren Gunnels: Well, yes.

Brianna Joy Gray: You know.

Warren Gunnels: It, it drives me nuts.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] That's, that's why they call you the Chief of, of Receipts-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and I'm so glad you were going to take the time and join us today.

Warren Gunnels: Oh, yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: Thank you so much for all that you do-

Warren Gunnels: Well, thank you.

Brianna Joy Gray: [laughs] ...and clarifying everything.

Warren Gunnels: You've been doing a spectacular job. I love these podcasts.

Brianna Joy Gray: Well, I appreciate it-

Warren Gunnels: Yeah.

Brianna Joy Gray: ...and we'll have to have you back on.

Warren Gunnels: All right. Thanks a lot.

Brianna Joy Gray: Okay.

Speaker 8: So, what's your impression of Senator Sanders?

Speaker 9: He's amazing. He would, he would come into our office, but he would come down the hallway in our office with a big thing under his arm. We'll be like, "Oh, Bernie's read everything again."

Speaker 8: [laughs]

Speaker 9: Real quick story, he came into my office and he had an amazing idea for cost of living increase to help seniors, instead of the, of the ridiculous way we do it, and he went all through it and I said, "Bernie," I said, "That's, that's amazing. How, I'm on the bill." He said, "No, no, no. This isn't about pride of authorship." I remember his words. "No. I want to pass this. You take the bill. That's Bernie Sanders."

Brianna Joy Gray: That's it for this week. Let us know what you think at [email protected], or send us a tweet with the hashtag #HearTheBern. If you haven't already, please take a moment to rate, review or like us on Apple Podcast, SoundCloud or wherever you're listening. As always, transcripts will be up soon. 'Til next time.