Bernie Sanders Visits McDowell County, West Virginia
May 6, 2016 - 11:26 AM
Senator Bernie Sanders
KIMBALL, W. Va. – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday came to
McDowell County, West Virginia, for a meeting with people from nearby
towns and hollows who gathered at a food bank in one of the worst
pockets of poverty in the United States.
“What is strange about what goes on in America is that we are the
wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Sanders told more than
250 people at the Five Loaves & Two Fishes Food Bank.
He pointed to mounting wealth and income inequality nationwide. In
West Virginia, while the top 1 percent saw incomes rise more than 60
percent from 1979 to 2012, incomes for everyone else fell by 0.4
percent. He also said 22 percent of American children live in poverty,
including about 100,000 in West Virginia.
“What poverty is about is dealing with the stress of whether or not
your family is going to make it every single week,” Sanders said. “When
you don’t have any money you’re fighting for your survival every single
The senator also cited studies showing how poverty cuts lives short.
Here in McDowell County, where suicides and drug overdoses are leading
causes of death, men live to be only 64 on average. Women typically live
to be 73. That’s a sharp contrast to Fairfax County, Virginia, only a
six-hour car ride away, where the average lifespan for a man is 82 and a
woman is 85.
Sanders has outlined an agenda to address poverty in America. He
would expand Medicare to cover all Americans, raise the federal minimum
wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour, ensure pay equity for women and
make public colleges and universities tuition free.
He also called for a major investment in rebuilding roads and bridges
to create jobs. More than 1,500 bridges in West Virginia, 22 percent,
are functionally obsolete. Sanders would invest $1 trillion in
rebuilding roads and bridges. Paid for by closing tax loopholes that let
profitable corporations evade taxes, Sanders’ legislation would create
at least 13 million jobs.
He also said job-killing trade policies have thrown West Virginia
workers out of their jobs. Since passage of the North American Free
Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China, West
Virginia has lost more than 30,000 manufacturing jobs. Sanders has also
introduced a $41 billion plan to transition coal workers into new
industries that pay a living wage and to rebuild communities that have
been dependent on the fossil fuel industry.
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