FILE - In this April 19, 2016, file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his wife Jane take a walk in State College, Pa. Sanders Institute, a think tank co-founded by Jane Sanders, will hold it's first big meeting where academics, artists and policy makers from across the world will gather in Burlington, Vt. Sen. Sanders will give the keynote address on Thursday evening, Nov. 29, 2018, and panel discussions will be held on Friday and Saturday. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Sanders Institute set to host first big meeting

November 27, 2018 - 12:35 pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A think tank founded by the wife and son of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to be hosting its first big meeting where academics, artists and policy makers from across the world will gather on the shores of Lake Champlain to look for solutions to what they consider to be the most intractable challenges facing the country and the world.

In three days of panel discussions and meetings, the people attending will discuss issues that include access to medical care, criminal justice reform, protecting the environment, promoting civil rights, immigration and organized labor.

Sen. Sanders, who is considering whether to launch another bid for the White House in 2020, will give the keynote address Thursday evening launching the event. The panel discussions will be held on Friday and Saturday.

The institute, which was founded last year as a way to pursue "progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues," is not connected with the senator's political campaigns, said co-founder Jane O'Meara Sanders, Bernie Sanders' wife.

In addition to domestic policy discussions, there will be an international round-table where people will talk about a rise in authoritarianism across the world in which leaders are rejecting the norms of democracy.

"We'll be talking about how we counteract that, how we create a global network of individuals and organizations to end inequality, exploitation, discrimination and environmental degradation," Jane Sanders said.

Among those scheduled to attend are New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico; actors Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon and Vermont environmentalist Bill McKibben.

The event will be open to the public, but people wishing to attend will have to get tickets, which will be distributed first-come, first-served, Jane Sanders said.

On Friday morning, University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin will present a plan to pay for a "Medicare for All," the single-payer health insurance system being promoted by many liberal thinkers as the solution to the nation's ongoing health care challenge. Critics of the Medicare for All idea have decried what it would cost.

Pollin said that while the details are complicated, the concept is simple.

"When the government becomes the single payer you cut way back on administrative burdens across the board," he said. "So that enables you to cover everybody and also be less expensive."

The meeting, officially called The Sanders Institute Gathering, is being sponsored by the Sanders Institute, founded by Jane Sanders and their son David Driscoll in 2017. Jane Sanders, who described herself as the organization's spokeswoman while her son is the executive director.

"The core intent of The Sanders Institute Gathering is to share replicable policies, develop actionable steps, establish ongoing networks and articulate a progressive vision," Driscoll said in a news release announcing the meeting.