Rob Kall: Yes.
Bernie Sanders: Obviously you have this very Conservative State that is very proud of their State-owned bank, and by the way, it is something that citizens in Vermont are looking at, and is something that I strongly support. The issue here is the degree to which we take out savings, and we invest it in a public bank which then makes investments -- invests in our communities and earns a decent rate of return, rather than giving this money to some Wall Street bank that engages in whatever fraudulent activities they engage in - makes a lot more sense to me to invest in local financial institutions who are going to invest locally - in housing, in small business, in agriculture. To me, that makes a whole lot of sense.
Rob Kall: Are you doing anything on it in the Senate?
Bernie Sanders: It is an issue. Actually, it's is on my long list of things to do, to make it - what we are doing is that we have legislation in which would make it easier for companies to move toward worker-control. That legislation we have introduced, and we do it in a couple of ways; but in terms of State Banks, we are certainly looking at ways that States can go forward in a way that is easier than it currently is. But you're quite right on saying that all over this country, especially with the justified contempt that people have for Wall Street and major financial institutions who care nothing about anything else than their own short term profits. There is a growing interest in how we can do it differently, including State Banks.
Rob Kall: I'll be speaking in a couple weeks down in Washington at a whistleblower conference. The Obama Administration has indicted and charged more whistleblowers than all the past presidents combined. What are you thoughts on whistleblowers and whistleblowing, and how they're handled and treated?
Bernie Sanders: Well, obviously we need to protect people who have the courage to speak up and expose fraud and illegal activities at the government or corporate level, so we strongly support them. But the main area that I am focusing on, Rob, is an area that I think does not get enough attention - not from Liberals or Progressives; and that is the economy, and the understanding that if we do not turn things around, this country will move very rapidly in the direction of an Oligarchy in which a handful of billionaire families controlling the economic and political life of this country. There are a million issues out there. That is the most important issue.
Rob Kall: Our mutual friend Thom Hartmann and I have both written articles advocating for getting rid of billionaires, making it illegal and impossible to be a billionaire. What do you think about that?
Bernie Sanders: Well I think that Progressive tax reform is a very, very good idea, and I think people will recall that under the Eisenhower era, we had very steep taxes on the wealthiest people in this country (marginal rates), and I support strong Progressive taxes. But the point is, forgetting just tax reform or anything else at the moment, the major issue in my view that we should be focusing on is, especially with Citizen's United, the degree to which billionaire families can control our political life. And what you're seeing right now is just beyond belief: that you have billionaires pouring -- the Koch Brothers and others -- being prepared to just spend huge amounts of money electing their people.