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Rep Bernie Sanders vs. Chairman Alan Greenspan

July 1, 1993

n Exchange between Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and FED Chairman Alan Greenspan in a July 15 hearing in the Financial Services Committee

Published on Wednesday, July 16, 2003 by CommonDreams.org. Reprinted with permission.

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 you—and I mean this seriously, because you’re an honest person, I think you just don’t know what’s going on in the real world—and 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 this—I suspect that you don’t—but you have insulted tens of millions of American workers.

You have defended over the years, among other things, the abolition of the minimum wage—one of your policies—and 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 you—doesn’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 ago—a good Republican—told 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 whiff 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 you—may I?

SANDERS: (inaudible)

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.

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