Bernie Sanders may not have won the presidency in 2016, but on Thursday he was touting progressive wins at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee summit in Washington D.C.
Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who champions democratic socialist values, was the featured speaker at the PCCC’s National Candidate training.
“The last poll that I saw, 59 percent of the American people believe in Medicare-for-all,” Sanders said to a raucous bout of applause.
“A few years ago in the Senate, I introduced a Medicare-for-all bill, had zero co-sponsors,” he continued. “This time we have 16 co-sponsors.”
“In other words, what was once considered radical is now mainstream,” Sanders added.
“When we ran for office, we picked up what our friends in the Fight for $15 movement were talking about, and we said is, if you work 40 hours a week in the United States, you should not be living in poverty. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage, 15 bucks an hour,” he continued.
“Well, a few years ago Democratic leadership said, ‘$15 an hour? Oh, my God! You want to double the federal minimum wage. Maybe, maybe we could go to $10.10 an hour.’ Now we have 30 co-sponsors on $15 an hour,” Sanders said.
A Gallup survey in May 2016 showed that 58% of those surveyed supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its replacement with federally funded insurance for all Americans, including 41 percent of Republicans.
Welfare and entitlements are generally popular among Americans, according to a 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Eighty-to-ninety percent of those surveyed support maintaining or increasing spending on: Education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and National Defense. Only thirteen percent supported Medicaid cuts, while eight percent wanted cuts to Medicare.
Sanders’ speech espousing Medicare-for-all comes on the heels of Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement that he would not be seeking re-election. Over his time in the House of Representatives, Ryan developed a reputation as an entitlement reform proponent who could make little if any headway due to the unpopularity of such reforms during elections.