Opinion

Five Questions That Senator Sanders Owes It To Democratic Party Progressives To Answer…Tonight Or Soon

Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton

As we wait for tonight’s Democratic town hall debate in Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) owes it to all progressive Democrats, including himself and his enthusiastic supporters, to answer the following three questions posed by fellow progressives:

  1. Progressive New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, often a Hillary Clinton critic, described Clinton’s anti-big bank and Wall Street regulatory plan as tougher than yours. Would you explain why you disagree with Krugman — and at least acknowledge that he regards Clinton’s Wall Street program as effective and comprehensive?
  2. You have continued to criticize Clinton for taking donations from Wall Street donors. Would you criticize President Obama for doing the same thing?
  3. Do you acknowledge that Clinton — even while taking donations and speaking fees from Wall Street executives — has taken positions and votes that are 100 percent contrary to their interests and their public positions, such as eliminating the “carried interest” loophole that allows hedge-fund billionaires to pay reduced taxes relative to ordinary Americans, supporting the Dodd-Frank Act and other tougher regulations on financial institutions, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
  4. Vox editor Ezra Klein, a well-known progressive expert supporting universal healthcare, criticized your socialized medicine “single-payer-for-all” plan because you have inaccurately described its costs, the extra taxes average Americans would have to pay, and most importantly, the reduced medical coverage and reimbursements that government would require, as is the case in Medicare coverage. If you disagree with Klein, can you explain what you disagree with and why? And exactly how much in increased taxes will middle-class families have to pay in your program? And if they currently like the union-negotiated insurance they may have, would your tell them that they no longer keep their insurance?
  5. You criticized Obama in 2011, openly spoke of challenging him in a primary and have never joined the Democratic caucus as a Democrat. Can you explain exactly why you were so critical of Obama in 2011 that you spoke of challenging him in a Democratic primary for renomination in 2012?

Sen. Sanders is a good man and a genuine progressive. But he hasn’t been given the same level of scrutiny as Hillary Clinton, which is not his fault — it’s the media’s. But before progressives in the Democratic Party support him as nominee, the above five questions at a minimum should be answered — in detail.

Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).