Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders wants to shape America into more of a European social state, but he readily admits that his policies could lead to an increase in unemployment.
Sanders appeared Thursday at a reporters breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Asked by a reporter whether his platform — which calls for such things as guaranteed vacation time and paid sick leave for workers — will increase the cost of hiring employees and ultimately lead to higher unemployment, the Vermont senator conceded that “nothing happens which is 100 percent positive.”
“Anytime you make a change, you’re right, there are ramifications on that change,” Sanders said. “Nothing happens which is 100 percent positive. But, I think given the fact that the United States is the only major country on earth, or the only major economy that does not have guaranteed vacation time, sick leave or parental leave, I think we have got to address that. So, yes, there may be some repercussions there.”
“But on the other hand you tell me what are the repercussions when a woman has a baby today and is forced to go back to work in a week,” he added. “What happens to her child in her life and in the father’s life, is that a repercussion?”
Sanders argued that the upside of providing greater worker benefits exceeds the costs, including an increase in unemployment.
“So every public policy has positives and negatives, but I think the time is long overdue for us to start addressing the needs of working families,” he concluded.
On the stump and at the breakfast, Sanders speaks highly of Europe’s social welfare states. Asked by The Daily Caller if he believes there is anything the United States does that European countries should copy, Sanders said he believes in copying “best practices” from all over the world.
“Are we doing things better than other countries? Of course we are,” Sanders said. “There’s a lot we have to be proud of, we are an incredibly entrepreneurial nation. I mean, every other day someone is coming up with a great idea or a great product, a great invention. We do that probably better than any other country on earth, other countries should learn from us.”
“But in terms of protecting and taking care of the needs of working people, we have a lot to learn from many other countries around the world,” he added.
Sanders was repeatedly pressed during the breakfast to criticize 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, leading the Vermont senator at one point to lecture the media.
“I very much worry about how campaigns are covered in the sense that campaigns are not baseball games,” he said. “What did I read in the paper today? Gov. Bush is getting a new campaign manager. You know who cares about that? About eight people in the world.”
“I was on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday and I talked about the fact that the economic policies that have recently came out in a study that said over 50 percent of young African-American kids are unemployed or underemployed,” he continued. “Gets very little coverage. Which issue is more important?”
“I’m begging the media, allow serious debate on serious issues, let’s not get into personal attacks,” he concluded his harangue.
Asked by TheDC at the end of the event whether he would consider either Hillary Clinton or even Republican Rand Paul, who a recent report suggests is competing with Sanders for some of the same voters, as his vice presidential nominee if he won the Democratic nomination, Sanders refused to answer, saying it’s a “little premature.”
“Right now I’m not worried about V.P. candidates,” Sanders, who trails far behind Clinton in the polls, said. “I’ve got one or two things in front of us before we get to that position.”