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Sen. Sanders: Republican Budget ‘Laughable,’ ‘Absurd’

U.S. Senate(WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner's declaration that budget cuts need to be in the trillions -- not the billions -- for Republicans to agree to a higher debt limit, landed with a thud among liberals, many of whom are insisting that higher taxes be considered as part of the discussion.

On ABC's Top Line Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that Boehner can't reach his goals without deep cuts in critical government programs, including moves that would "decimate Medicare."

"We're not going to ask billionaires who are doing phenomenally well and seen their tax rates go down" to sacrifice, said Sanders, I-VT. "We're not going to ask them to pay one penny more in taxes. That is laughable, that's absurd, and the vast majority of the American people do not support that approach."

When Republicans were in the White House, Sanders voted against raising the debt ceiling. He wanted to draw a distinction between his votes then, and what Republicans are threatening to do now.

"Traditionally I think that you've seen a lot of people including myself voted against it," Sanders said. "But in reality I think there is the understanding that a compact has been worked out that it is going to pass. The idea that the Republicans may be very serious -- maybe not, we don't know -- on killing of the raising of the debt ceiling, which would cause financial chaos throughout the world -- that's I think a new step forward."

The debt ceiling is a separate debate than the one over the budget, he alleges.

Sanders continued: "To decimate Medicaid, when we already have 50 million people without health insurance, to bring Medicare into a voucher program, to cut back substantially on education when millions of families cannot afford to send their kids to college, and not ask millionaires and billionaires to pay one cent more in taxes, is literally laughable. It is laughable. It isn't gonna happen, it shouldn't happen."

Sanders also made the case for his new proposal to create a single-payer-style health care system -- a bill that he knows will not advance in the current political climate.

"I think you have to have a vision. And the vision for this country should be we've got to join the rest of the industrialized world, where virtually every other country guarantees health care to their people as a right and yet ends up spending in other countries far less per capita than we do."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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