U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will be stopping in Portsmouth on Tuesday on a tour through Indiana and Michigan, where he will be talking about issues facing the nation as well as local communities.
“What’s bringing me to Portsmouth is I’m going to be in the Midwest. We are going to be in Detroit (Mich.), and we’re going to be in Indianapolis (Ind.),” Sanders stated. “And, we wanted to drop into Ohio to talk about the state of the economy and how we can bring people together to try to create an economy that works for everybody and not just the one percent.”
Senator Sanders added that Tuesday’s event is going to be much more than him standing up in front of a crowd and giving a lecture.
Rather, Sanders says he is coming to hear from people in the community and will be including a panel of local speakers. Sanders stated that there will be a chance for those attending to ask questions and make suggestions. Panel members will include individuals from different facets of the community speaking on issues that they must face in their everyday lives.
“The way that we do these meetings is not just me getting up there and giving a speech,” Sanders clarified. “We hear from local people, people that are trying to get by making $9 or $10 an hour, people who don’t have any health insurance, people who can’t afford childcare, people who are going deeply in debt after they graduate college. So we talk about the issues facing the community, facing the country and see where we can go from there.”
In addition to talking about the economy, Sanders stated that he will also being speaking about the opioid epidemic that is not only hitting hard in Portsmouth and Scioto County but also around the nation. He explained that the focus needs to be on prevention.
“The opioid epidemic is a crisis in Ohio, is a crisis in Vermont and is a crisis all over this country,” Sanders commented. “I’m very glad that at least we were able to stop the massive cuts in Medicaid – $800 billion that the Republicans wanted to bring about by repealing the Affordable Care Act. We stopped that, but what we need to do is bring in substantial resources for prevention and for treatment. We have people all over this country who are addicted, who want to get off of heroin, who want to get off of opioids, and the truth is they really don’t have treatment space available for them throughout the country. So, we’ve got to move aggressively on that.”
Sanders also spoke on the need for strong prevention efforts that work to education youth. He added that his is a focus in his home state of Vermont.
“We have got to do a much better job with young people, and we’re going to focus on this in Vermont to make sure that kids understand that if they start doing opioids, if they start doing heroin, their future is not going to be very good at all. It’ll be death. It’ll be jail. It will be misery. And, we have got to a better job of education young people about what this type of addiction means to their lives,” Sanders stated.
The senator further emphasized that this meeting is about exploring issues and looking at ways to address these issues by talking to the people who experience them everyday.
“I think too often media does not focus on the reality impacting people’s lives, the struggles that people have to make a living, to put food on the table, to provide healthcare for their families,” Sanders commented. “Those are the issues we have to focus on. And we have to ask ourselves a pretty simple question, and that is why it is that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world middle class continues to decline and we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality. And, we have millions of people just living in dire poverty. We can do better than that. And, how we go forward is what this meeting is about.”
Sanders will first stop in Indianapolis Monday with a rally on jobs and the economy hosted by Good Jobs Nation and Chuck Jones, the recently retired president of United Steelworkers Local 1999. Sanders will then head to Portsmouth Tuesday to talk about jobs, health care and the economy.
Sanders’ rally in Portsmouth will start at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Vern Rife Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Shawnee State University, 940 2nd St., Portsmouth.
This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. Admission is first come, first served. For more information, visit the Bernie Sanders Speaks event page on Facebook.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.