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On the campaign trail, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump both agreed that in order to revitalize the middle class, good-paying manufacturing jobs have to stay in America.
As the White House moves forward with tax reform and trade policies, Sanders reaffirmed his commitment towards protecting middle-and-working-class Americans from large corporations, indicating it’s an area on which he’d be open to working with Trump.
“We have lost our manufacturing base and it’s an issue that has got to be dealt with,” Sanders told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff in an interview Tuesday. “We have to fundamentally rethink our trade policies and make them work not for the CEOs of large corporations, but for working people.”
“If Trump wants to develop a rational trade policy that demands that corporations start investing in this country instead of China, that’s something that we can work on,” he added.
On Tuesday, Trump and his cabinet took initial steps toward that goal by imposing a 20 percent tariff on Canadian lumber, citing unfair trade practices by Canada.
Sanders said he didn’t know enough about the specifics of the lumber deal to assess how it could affect America’s trade policy or the middle-class.
READ MORE: Can President Trump bring back manufacturing jobs?
Facing a potential government shutdown on Saturday, Sanders — who is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee — said he hopes there will be “a long term agreement” on funding. He said he cannot support appropriating billions of dollars for a border wall at the same time Trump’s administration considers cuts that hurt “the needs of working people,” such as programs that provide health care and education.
Sanders spent part of his Congressional recess earlier this month “running around the country” with DNC chairman Tom Perez, speaking to crowds of supporters in mostly red states about how to rebuild the Democratic Party. Their idea: embracing a 50-state policy and grassroots activism.
“In the last eight years, the Democrats lost 900 legislative seats all over this country,” he said. “That is a failed approach toward politics.”
MORE: Can Democrats find a rallying cry that wins with voters?
The Vermont Senator said that a progressive Democratic Party that fights to increase the minimum wage, rebuilds infrastructure and improve the healthcare system will win over middle-class voters who supported Trump in November’s election.
Sanders plans to reintroduce a bill to make the national minimum wage $15. Despite a Republican-controlled Congress and Trump in the White House, he claims that it can be signed into law because “it’s what the American people want.”
His plan gradually increases the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2024.
“It is not a radical idea to say that in America, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty,” he said.
Watch Sanders’ full interview with Woodruff on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour.
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