Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sanders may offer choice for Democrats in 2016

Four years ago, Sen. Bernie Sanders made headlines with a passionate, 8-hour speech on the Senate floor lambasting the Bush-era tax cuts and bemoaning the growing gap between rich and poor.

Now Sanders, one of the Senate's two Independents, is taking that message on the road. On his itinerary:  The early presidential primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.

On Wednesday Sanders was in Charlotte to accept an award from the American Legion during its national convention. Sanders, who chairs the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee, was honored with the Legion's Patriot Award.

"The cost of war doesn't end when the last shots are fired or the last missiles are launched," he told the Legion audience. "The cost of war continues until the vet receives all of the benefits that he or she has earned."

But when Sanders' met with me, it wasn't veterans that he wanted to talk about. It was the same subject he talked about four years ago and one he's cared about for a long time.

"The main issue that I have is that in America today the middle-class is disappearing while the gap between rich and poor is growing wider," he said. "...We need more people in politics working for ordinary people and not just the top 1 percent."

Sanders, who turns 73 in two weeks, says he hasn't made up his mond about 2016. And he's under no illusions about the prospect for a Democratic Socialist from Vermont getting the nomination, particularly in a field that could include a well-funded Hillary Clinton.

"I realize I'm not a household name," says Sanders, who refuses corporate donations though he has taken money from organized labor.

But he thinks there might be an opening for somebody with the right message. And he's going around the country seeing if audiences agree.

"I think the average American is a lot more frustrated with the establishment than a lot of people perceive," he says. "I think there's receptivity for voices that are going to speak for a working class that is being battered."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Will financial anxiety among older voters swing election?

A new poll by the AARP shows a lot of financial anxiety among North Carolina voters who are retired or planning to be.

And that anxiety could have implications for the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis. Exit polls in 2010, the last off-year election, showed more than a quarter of N.C. voters were seniors.

How bad is the anxiety? According to the survey of voters 50 and over:

-- 68 percent worry that their income falls behind the cost of living.

-- 67 percent of non-retirees  -- and 55 percent of retirees -- are 'more worried and concerned' than hopeful about meeting their financial goals.

-- 60 percent worry about paying too much in taxes.

-- 79 percent of those over 50 worry about saving enough for retirement.

Pollsters, a b-partisan team from North Star Opinion Research and Hart Research, found voters split evenly between Hagan and Tillis.

But they also found only 39 percent like the job being done by President Barack Obama. that's still nearly five times the 8 percent approval of Congress.

The poll reflects something else. It's why voters can expect to hear each candidate claim the other is a bigger threat to Social Security or Medicare.