Bernie Sanders Says Koch Brothers Shut Down Government Via Citizens United

Kim LaCapria

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent) slammed the Koch brothers on MSNBC this morning, alleging that the billionaire businessmen behind the Tea Party were partly responsible for bringing about the government shutdown.

Sanders is the Senate's sole Independent senator, and he typically caucuses with Democrats. But the Vermont lawmaker lashed out at what he says is the unchecked and damaging influence of Citizens United on American governance, the House of Representatives in particular, during an MSNBC appearance this morning.

Sen. Sanders addressed the current government shutdown, saying he believes the Kochs are behind the gridlock that ground the House to a halt and subsequently, the rest of the federal government.

He began by establishing what stake he believes the Koch brothers have in disrupting democracy:

"The real issue here, if you look at the Koch Brothers agenda is, look at with many of the extreme right wing people believe, Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veterans' Administration, they want to privatize Social Security end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA, you don't have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore, Department of Energy gone, Department of Education gone, that is the agenda... and many people don't understand that the Koch Brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the tea party and two other kinds of ancillary organizations to push this agenda."

Sen. Sanders then likens the current money in politics climate to the corrupt days of robber barons, opining that the eradication of the middle class is the intent of -- not a side effect of -- Citizens United and other corporate interests in politics:

"So, what you're finding now is a continuation of the class warfare that has been going on in this country for many, many years. The rich are getting richer, the number of Americans in poverty is at an all-time high, the middle class is disappearing, and these guys are using Citizens United and banging away and doing everything that they can to get more tax breaks for the people on top and more devastating cuts for working families."

Watch as Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses his take on the government shutdown in the clip above.