On Monday, the Editorial Board of the New York Daily News held a colorful interview with Bernie Sanders, just days after Hillary Clinton agreed to schedule a debate in New York before its April 19 primary. Sanders had requested for months that the duo spar in the one state that's perhaps the most personal to each of them. Clinton was New York's senator for eight years, and her campaign headquarters are still located in the state. Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn.
For Sanders, winning the majority of New York's 247 pledged delegates is the ultimate prize. It's so important, in fact, that it momentarily distracted the Vermont senator from Wisconsin, which is holding its primary a full two weeks before New York. On Monday, just a day before Wisconsin's primary, members of The Daily News' local editorial board were friendly with the candidate, but certainly didn't skimp on tough questions. Playing devil's advocate, the interviewers asked Sanders to elaborate on the so-called villains of corporate America, and his answers helped explain his stance on America's economy.
Here are three basic questions about Wall Street and free trade that the Daily News asked Sanders. They might give you some greater insight into his campaign for presidency.
Who Is "Corporate America"?
Since launching his campaign, Sanders has used his stance on Wall Street to distinguish himself from Clinton, who has accepted donations from high-profile banks in the past. In the Daily News interview, after Sanders accused Wall Street banks of having a penchant for greed and recklessness, the board asked him to distinguish between Wall Street and other businesses that could be contributing to the lopsided distribution of wealth in America. The board asked:
I wanted to draw a distinction, though. Because in your speech you mention the financial industry and you focused on corporate America, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America. So I wanted to get a sense of corporate America, as the agent of American destruction.
Sanders claimed that General Electric, which was founded by American workers, has evaded taxation and outsourced jobs overseas:
That is destroying the moral fabric of this country. That is saying that "I don't care that the workers here have worked for decades. It doesn't matter to me. The only thing that matters is that I can make a little bit more money. That the dollar is all that is almighty." And I think that is the moral fabric.
Is Outsourcing Jobs Necessary?
The Vermont senator's opposition to the free trade deals currently in place — NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement — go hand in hand with his disdain for Wall Street. Like the banks, American corporations that outsource jobs to other countries are operating according to the whims of the dollar. But is it possible that this is a necessary evil?
The editorial board approached the topic from an alternate, less discussed perspective by taking into account the competition American companies face. Sometimes, they suggest, preserving American jobs just isn't an option:
Do you weigh in the balance at all, the fact that a company that's moving jobs overseas, that the competitive climate may be such that they feel that they must, to compete in the United States?
Sanders passionately shot back, maintaining that there's simply no excuse except for greed:
No, I don't think it is appropriate for trade policies to say that you can move to a country where wages are abysmal, where there are no environmental regulations, where workers can't form unions. That's not the kind of trade agreement that I will support.
What Should Trade Policy Entail, Then?
The candidate's definition of competition is a little bit different from that of the U.S. currently:
... I do believe in trade. But it has to be based on principles that are fair. So if you are in Vietnam, where the minimum wage is 65 cents an hour, or you're in Malaysia, where many of the workers are indentured servants because their passports are taken away when they come into this country and are working in slave-like conditions, no, I'm not going to have American workers 'competing' against you under those conditions.
So you have to have standards. And what fair trade means to say that it is fair. It is roughly equivalent to the wages and environmental standards in the United States.
The Daily News provided the transcript of the interview online. Many people have commented that the newspaper asked some hard questions that Sanders might not have exactly had the answers to. Whether or not Sanders was able to hold his own is a matter of your opinion.