Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders holds town hall meeting

Sanders discusses platform regarding minimum wage, higher education, climate change policies

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Democrat who recently announced his presidential candidacy, hosted a town-hall meeting Monday to discuss logistics of the government’s budget and active initiative to confront issues, such as higher education, climate change and the living wage.

Sanders spoke briefly on the cost of higher education and said it is vital for the nation to replicate the policies of other countries such as Germany, where the opportunity for post-secondary education is free.

Nevertheless, Sanders said the initiative to make higher education free is an expensive proposition, and proposed in order to increase the government’s revenue to finance education, corporations originally from the U.S. must increase production within the country in order to pay higher taxes.

Fourth-year College student Chudi Obi said Sanders’ views on higher education were interesting to him because of his studies in politics.

“[The cost of higher education] is hard to look at, especially as financial aid is being cut — therefore I was wondering […] what legislation are you thinking about to combat this,” Obi said.

In terms of how individuals in Congress handle mandatory budgets, including Social Security and Medicare, Sanders said multi-million corporations fund the initiative to cut these vital pieces of welfare.

“A humane country, a just country, will not cut those benefits — in fact what we do is expand those benefits,” Sanders said.

Sanders also highlighted the controversy of climate change and said despite scientists’ research and statistics displaying the changes and depletion of resources in the environment, various Republican officials deny this information and threaten effective policies to address the issue.

“If you don’t believe in science, it is very hard to go forward as a nation,” Sanders said. “’Climate change is real, climate change is caused by human activity, climate change is already causing devastating effects like what is going on in California, and we have a very small opportunity to change our energy system.”

Sanders said the nation has “a window of opportunity” in which the government must take active steps to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

In addition to climate change, Sanders addressed the unemployment rate and said Republican officials fortify infrastructure problems that could alleviate the amount of individuals without work.

“We need to invest, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, over $3 trillion into the nation’s infrastructure,” Sanders said. “I have been conservative and have proposed legislation that will invest $1 trillion over a five-year period to rebuild our infrastructure and can create and sustain 13 trillion decent paying jobs.”

Sanders said improvements to the nation’s infrastructure lead to increases of the government-mandated wage, which currently sits at $7.25. Sanders also said the minimum wage needs to be increased to a living wage of $15 in order to eliminate poverty.

“[Infrastructure] is like a cavity in your mouth, you may want to ignore it but it ain’t gonna get better,” Sanders said.

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