U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., reinforced his support for former primary rival, now-Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton at a Madison event Wednesday.
Approximately 1,100 gathered at the Monona Terrace community center to hear U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold and Sanders’ pitch to Madisonians who might still not be sold on a vote for Clinton.
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Feingold and Sanders focused on on lower-income and middle class families. Feingold said those at the top are not experiencing the same problems.
“When you listen to the people of this state, more than anything else you’ll hear that middle-income working families are at hard times,” Feingold said.
He said more affordable health care, higher minimum wage, less expensive prescription drugs and protection for social security will only happen with a Clinton presidency.
Sanders said the U.S. has one of the worst levels of income inequality today, and one-tenth of the 1 percent owns as much money as the bottom 90 percent.
“If you work 40 hours a week in the United States of America, you should not be living in poverty,” Sanders said.
Clinton and Sanders both believe it is important for the minimum wage — currently $7.25 at the federal level — to be turned into a living wage.
Clinton also believes that in 2016, women should not be earning 79 cents out every dollar a man makes, Sanders said.
“Equal pay for equal work must be what this country is about,” Sanders said.
Sanders also focused on education issues in the U.S and said the country is falling behind many other countries.
It is “outrageous” that millions of Americans have debilitating student debt after college, Sanders said.
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He said the future of the country depends on what happens to young people.
“It is beyond insanity that hundreds of thousands of bright, qualified young people cannot get a college education,” Sanders said. “I want our young people leaving school with excitement, going out, getting the jobs they want not just the jobs they need to pay off their student debt.”
Sanders said he and Clinton made an agreement that public colleges and universities will be tuition-free for every family in America that makes less than $125,000 per year.
Sanders said it makes more sense to spend money on education, rather than jails and incarceration when discussing police reform.
Sanders mentioned the importance of race relations and remembering past struggles of groups such as Native Americans, black people and the LGBTQ community, and said one of the nation’s strengths is in its diversity.
Sanders criticized Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, for trying to take the country backwards by allowing bigotry to resurface.
“We have come too far,” Sanders said. “We have struggled too long … to go back to a candidate who has made bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.”