POLITICS
02/13/2017 01:12 am ET Updated Feb 13, 2017

Sanders: Tea Party Was Funded By Kochs; Progressive 'Uprising' Driven By Passion

They're rising up in anger because of the potential loss of Obamacare, he warns.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) bridled at a suggestion that people protesting against the Trump administration are similar to tea party demonstrators.

“It’s not a tea party because the tea party was essentially funded by the billionaire Koch brothers,” Sanders said during an interview Sunday on “Meet the Press.” “This is a spontaneous and grass-roots uprising of the American people.”

And he said protesters aren’t going away anytime soon. Sanders predicted demonstrations will continue to grow, particularly over the threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In a letter Saturday, he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for rallies in support of Obamacare on Feb. 25.

“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 23 million people off of health insurance?’” Sanders said.

“How many of them are going to die? Are you really going to repeal the protection against pre-existing conditions so that people who have cancer or heart disease will no longer be able to have health insurance? You going to throw kids off of their parents’ health insurance programs?”

Some observers have noted that recent protests have seemed to mimic the tea party demonstrations that began in 2009, though the numbers now are massively larger. But others say the tea party tactics to turn street protests into political power were borrowed from the left and its far earlier protests against the Vietnam War.

In his “Meet the Press” appearance, Sanders also blasted President Donald Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” in Washington by getting rid of corrupt old cronies.

“Well, guess who’s running the swamp right now?” he asked. “The same exact Wall Street guys from Goldman Sachs who were there in the past. “

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