Mandela Barnes on inflation, abortion and running for Senate

By Steven Potter | Here & Now

October 4, 2022

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Wisconsin's Democratic challenger for U.S. Senator discusses why he is seeking support from voters in the 2022 election, as well as the significance of rising prices and Roe v. Wade being overturned.

Steven Potter:
So Lieutenant Governor, let's start with voters. As you campaign around the state, what are Wisconsin residents telling you that they want from the US Senate right now?

Mandela Barnes:
Well, thanks so much for having me. All across the state, people are concerned, they've been concerned with rising costs, but right now people are downright frightened about the attacks on Social security and Medicare, the benefits people have worked their entire lives for. The idea that it could be cut in an instant is something that is deeply unsettling for people. Folks just want opportunity. Wisconsin is a working class state full of hard working people, and nobody's looking for a handout. People just want a fair shot at the American Dream, and they are feeling like that fair shot is becoming less within reach with each passing day because too many out of touch politicians who go to Washington, serve themselves, the interest of their wealthy donors, but leave everyday people behind. That's what I'm hearing everywhere I go, whether it's in Milwaukee or whether a lot more rural parts of the state.

Steven Potter:
Gas prices have come down some, but many American families are still struggling to pay for things like food and housing. How should the US Senate address inflation?

Mandela Barnes:
Well, there are a couple things we got to do with inflation. People are in need of immediate relief. We need a middle class tax cut, and we can achieve this by making sure that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share. That's how we get to a place where families can have a little more economic security.

In the long term, we need to do more to create good paying jobs here in the state of Wisconsin, in this country for that matter. We need to end the bad trade deals that have hurt American workers and have hurt our small family farmers to provide some opportunity and relief. Instead, we have politicians who actually praise offshoring, politicians who actually support sending good paying jobs that would've been here in Wisconsin to other states. That's why it feels as if there's no relief in sight. But it's the reality because you have too many politicians who just don't understand what life is like for people, don't necessarily get that real working class experience and what it means to have to sometimes struggle to put food on the table. I share the experience of a majority of people in this state in that regard. All we're looking for is people who we know have our backs, and it just doesn't feel that way right now.

Steven Potter:
The Supreme Court has overturned Roe versus Wade. Where do you stand on abortion?

Mandela Barnes:
Well, I'll tell you, this is a deeply personal issue for me, but it is even more personal for millions of people across the state and across this country. With Roe being overturned, the option we have here now, given the fact that Wisconsin has a 1849 abortion ban on the books, the reality is we need to end the filibuster to codify the right to choose into law once and for all. We can do this if we flip Wisconsin and add one more seat to the 50/50, quote, unquote, majority that we have right now.

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