Ronan Farrow Daily   |  March 10, 2014

Senators demanding action on climate change

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., talks about campaign finance reform and why he’s participating in an all-night "talkathon" on Capitol Hill where senators will demand action from congress on climate change.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back. grab your popcorn and a lot of red bull , members of the senate are expected to stay up all night talking and talking and talking and talking and talking about climate change . democrats want to quote, wake up congress to the disturbing realities of climate change . 28 senators are expected to speak tonight. 26 democrats and two independents, including my next guest, senator bernie sanders , independent from vermont. we'll get to that all nighter in a moment. first, senator sanders i wanted to first apologize, i have a dry cleaning issue, i'm here au naturale as maybe you'll be on the floor at 3:00 a.m . the way you're in the news this week for your announcement you said you're prepared to be a candidate for president. a lot of people cheering to that and strong reactions. that will mean a whole lot of fund raising and campaign finance reform is a big issue that you have championed extensively this week and this is why i wanted to ask this a supreme court decision could come and change fundamentally the way that campaign finance is handled orn the basis of individual contributions, it would end the limit orn how an individual can give over a two-year period. you were there when the court heard its first oral arguments on october and spoke at a rally afterwards, tell me why it's so important to you?

>> ronan, here is my great fear. my great fear is both economically and politically, this nation is moving toward an form of society where a handful of billionaires are going to control the political life and economic life of this nation. and what this supreme court case is about and what citizens united is all about, is saying to large corporations and billionaires, you can spend as much money as you want on the political process. you can buy and sell candidates and do everything you want to create a right wing agenda which will benefit the wealthy at the expense of everybody else. this is not what american democracy is supposed to be. this is why among other things i believe in public funding of elections and we're working hard to try to overturn citizens united and fear very much this new supreme court case.

>> who in congress are standing in the way of campaign reform in your opinion?

>> virtually all republicans, not all but virtually all. they understand that at the end of the day , when you have families like the koch brothers or addleson, people who make billions and billions of dollars every single year. their wealth is increasing. they can spend hundreds and millions of dollars on campaigns and by and large benefit republicans. are there some billionaires who help democrats? yes, there are. the vast majority of the money are going to go to right wing extremist candidates. so from mitch mcconnell 's perspective and he himself as minority leader has been very active on these issues. he understands opening up the flood gates of corporate money, billionaire money will help the right wing and republican party .

>> i have to caveat there and we have a lot i want to get to. the numbers are big for both parties on this. we have billionaire as you said money flowing into both sides. we'll come back to that question of partisanship. some suggested lifting the two-year donation limit would be helpful since more individual freedom could offset the role of outis the groups encouraged by citizens united . what do you say to that argument?

>> i don't. at the end of the day you do not want a political system which is heavily dominated by wealthy individuals. that's not what american society is supposed to be about. ronan, i think people have no idea, no idea, about the amount of time that members of congress in both parties, they spend half of their lives raising money. you've got to go where the money and it's with wealthy people. if you're going to the wealthy to ask for campaign contributions , your political views are going to be shaped by that reality. you're not worry d there the high unemployment in this country and need to create millions of jobs. you're not worried about the fact we have more people living in poverty than any time in you're history. what you're worried about are needs of wealthy and powerful. i believe very strongly, we have got to junk the campaign finance situation we're in right now and move the public funding of elections.

>> thank you for spending time on that issue, something too few on hill focus on. it needs to be talked about. thank you for that. quickly, returning to the all nighter, democrats control the senate. wouldn't it be a better use of term to introduce legislation rather than making a statement?

>> you've got to do both. and we have introduced legislation, barbara boxer and i have introduced probably the most comprehensive climate change legislation ever introduced which calls for a tax on carbon, which would invest very, very substantially in energy efficiency and sustainable energy . i think what we're trying to do now in terms of tonight, is to make the american people aware that the debate about climate change really is over. that the scientific community is virtually unanimous in agreeing that climate change is real and caused by human activity. that it is already causing devastating problems in the united states and around the world. what we're doing now is speaking to the american people and saying, you have got to be involved in this process because if you are not, the planet we're going to leave to our kids and grandchildren will be significantly less habitable than the one we have today and will cause enormous problems at great expense in terms of trying to address. we've got to act now and that's what we're trying to do.

>> thank you so much. bernie sanders , we'll watch your work closely.

>> thank you.

>> let's check back on today's battle of the day. we asked, do you think edward snowden is a trait or or hero? here's where we stand, 62% picked rfd traitor and 38% rfd hero. shawn shared he sacrificed everything to expose corruption in his own government and don't forget the nobel nomination. hunter picked both options, this is interesting, sending this explanation, the two options are extremes, not enough gray area . i actually agree with you, sir. and from kevin who picked rfd traitor, he is compromising our national security , simpler point of view, keep them all coming. they are all interesting to hear and we'll be crunching numbers at the end of the day .