Capitol Report: Bernie Sanders unveils plan targeting money in politics as concerns grow over his heart attack

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Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Monday took the wraps off a plan targeting Corporate America’s role in politics, with the move coming as some pundits raised questions about his campaign following his heart attack last week.

The Vermont senator’s plan calls for making public financing mandatory for all campaigns for federal office and all national party conventions, and it would ban former members of Congress and their senior staff from becoming lobbyists. Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, has backed bans on lobbying for ex-lawmakers, too, as have some Republican lawmakers, though critics say such measures would be unconstitutional.

The “Money Out of Politics Plan” from Sanders also would replace the Federal Election Commission with a Federal Election Administration, as the FEC has become “worthless” while the new FEA would be “a true law enforcement agency,” the Sanders campaign said in a news release. In a reference to the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United v. FEC decision, the plan also promises to deliver a constitutional amendment that “makes clear that money is not speech and corporations are not people.”

“When we win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump, we will transform our political system by rejecting the influence of big corporate money,” Sanders said in the release.

His latest policy proposal comes after his campaign late Friday disclosed that the “chest discomfort” that the 78-year-old politician experienced last Tuesday was in fact a heart attack, as some experts suspected. The Sanders campaign has been criticized for not being more forthcoming earlier, and some pundits are now even questioning his White House bid. CNN columnist Jay Parini wrote that Sanders might want to drop out and endorse Warren, while an editor at the American Conservative, Rod Dreher, tweeted that the Vermont lawmaker “has no business running for president” following the health scare.

The heart attack has brought fresh attention to how the 2020 White House race involves several septuagenarians and instances of ageism. Besides Sanders at age 78, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is 76, Warren is 70, and Trump is 73.

Sanders, for his part, has sounded upbeat and is scheduled to take part in an Oct. 15 primary debate.

“After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work,” he said in a statement late Friday.