Senator Bernie Sanders Denounces Obama-GOP Tax Cut in 8.5-Hour Senate Speech, Says U.S. Becoming “Banana Republic”: an excerpt*.
“…Mr. President, in 2007, the top one percent of all income earners in the United States made 23-and-a-half percent of all income. Let me repeat that. Top one percent earned over 23 percent of all income. That is more than the bottom 50 percent. One percent here, 50 percent here. But for the very, very wealthy in this country, that’s apparently not enough. The percentage of income going to the top one percent nearly tripled since the 1970s.
Now, all over this country people are angry, they’re frustrated. It’s true in Vermont, I’m sure it’s true in Virginia. It’s true all over America. But one of the reasons that people are angry and frustrated is they’re working incredibly hard. In the state of Vermont, which I represent, I can tell you, there are people who don’t work one job, they don’t work two jobs, there are people who work in three jobs and four jobs, trying to cobble together an income in order to support their families. And I suspect that goes on all across the country. But people are working harder and harder. In many cases, their income is going down.
And the fact is that 80 percent—80 percent—of all new income earned from 1980 to 2005 has gone to the top one percent. But that is not apparently enough. Our friends at the top, who have a religious ferocity in terms of greed, they need more, and they need more. It’s like an addiction. Fifty million is not enough; they need $100 million. A hundred million is not enough; they need a billion. A billion is not enough. I’m not quite sure how much they need. When will it stop? Today, in terms of wealth, as opposed to income, the top one percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
You know, Mr. President, we went to school, and we used to read in the textbooks about Latin America, for example, and they used to refer to some of the countries there as what they call banana republics, countries in which a handful of families control the economic and political life of the nation. Well, I don’t want to get the American people too upset, but we are not all that far away from that reality today. Top one percent has seen a tripling of the percentage of income they earned since 1970s. Top one percent owning 23 percent of all income, more than the bottom 50 percent. Top one percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. That’s not the foundation of a democratic society; that’s the foundation for an oligarchic society…”