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What has Bernie ever accomplished?

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By tubacat


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Supposedly, he's an idealist, a dreamer, with no idea how to accomplish what he is proposing in his speeches. Although he says at every opportunity that he will not be able to make the admittedly massive changes he proposes without the active participation of millions of us in a political revolution, he is nevertheless criticized for promising things that he has no chance of delivering. This criticism is often accompanied by the question above: what has Bernie actually ever accomplished.

Well, let's take a look, shall we?

From an Alternet story titled "Bernie Gets it Done: Sanders' Record of Pushing Through Major Reforms Will Surprise You" from back in October, the author Zaid Jilani points out that during a 12-year period in the House of Representatives, Bernie passed more amendments than any other House member, and was dubbed by the author:

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"The Amendment King

"Despite the fact that the most right-wing Republicans in a generation controlled the House of Representatives between 1994 and 2006, the member who passed the most amendments during that time was not a right-winger like Bob Barr or John Boehner. The amendment king was, instead, Bernie Sanders."

And these amendments were not trivial, nor just pork for the folks back home. Instead, they were called "exclusively progressive."

For example:

  • Saving Money, for Colleges and Taxpayers (April 1998): In an amendment to H.R. 6, the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, Sanders made a change to the law that allowed the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education to make competitive grants available to colleges and universities that cooperated to reduce costs through joint purchases of goods and services.

  • Holding IRS Accountable, Protecting Pensions (July 2002): Sanders' amendment to the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2003 stopped the IRS from being able to use funds that "violate current pension age discrimination laws." Although he faced stiff GOP opposition, his amendment still succeeded along a 308 to 121 vote.

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  • Expanding Free Health Care (November 2001): You wouldn't think Republicans would agree to an expansion of funds for community health centers, which provide some free services. But Sanders was able to win a $100 million increase in funding with an amendment.

  • Getting Tough On Child Labor (July 2001): A Sanders amendment to the general appropriations bill prohibited the importation of goods made with child labor.

  • Increasing Funding for Heating for the Poor (September 2004): Sanders won a $22 million increase for the low-income home energy assistance program and related weatherization assistance program.

  • Fighting Corporate Welfare and Protecting Against Nuclear Disasters (June 2005): A Sanders amendment brought together a bipartisan coalition that outnumbered a bipartisan coalition on the other side to successfully prohibit the Export-Import Bank from providing loans for nuclear projects in China.

Doing this was not easy -- he had to put together bipartisan coalitions (remember those?). He continued this effective work when he was elected to the Senate in 2006, with amendments like the following:

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