- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sen. Bernard Sanders accused President Trump on Sunday of using his “extreme vetting” order and raids on illegal immigrants to distract from his decision to stack the Cabinet with bankers and billionaires and potentially overhaul popular health programs.

Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent and hero of the progressive left, said U.S. vetting systems are “very, very strong,” so Mr. Trump should not be trying to temporarily halt the American refugee program or migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“Where there’s a whole lot of discussion about the racist, in my view, immigration policies of the Trump administration, which are based on anti-Muslim ideology, which are doing us enormous harm all over the world, [there is] something else is going on at the exact same moment,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The president, he said, “is backtracking on every economic promise that he made to the American people.”

During the campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to not to touch programs like Medicare or Medicaid, though his health secretary, Tom Price, wrote budgets during his House tenure that would overhaul both programs.

Mr. Trump also promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington of self-interested elites, but some of his Cabinet nominees come from wealthy corporate backgrounds.

“Guess who’s running the swamp right now?” Mr. Sanders said. “The same exact Wall Street guys from Goldman Sachs who were there in the past. So we’re all talking about who do we hate tomorrow? Is it the Muslims? Is it Latinos? Who are we supposed to hate?”

Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders drew an enormous following by hammering on a populist economic message during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr. Sanders fell short against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, however.

Now, he is a leading critic of Mr. Trump and the GOP, particularly over their plans to repeal and replace Obamacare and potentially revamp Medicare coverage for seniors and Medicaid benefits for the poor.

He said protesters will take to the streets on Feb. 25 to protest the moves.

“There is, in fact, going to be rallies all over this country,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see people in conservative areas, in progressive areas asking the Republicans: ‘What are you going to do when you throw 20 million people off of health insurance? How many of them are going to die? What’s your plan?’”

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