Entries in Bernie Sanders (5)


Sen. Bernie Sanders Calls on Dems to Reject Entitlement Cuts

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Entitlement reform may offer an area of compromise on the "fiscal cliff," but Bernie Sanders is having none of it.

The independent Vermont senator, who has described himself as a “democratic socialist,” is widely regarded as the most liberal member of the Democratic caucus.  In a speech Wednesday at the National Press Club, Sanders offered his take on fiscal cliff negotiations: Don’t cut social programs, at all.

“We have CEOs from Wall Street making millions of dollars a year, coming to Washington and saying we’re gonna have to cut not only Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- we’re gonna have to cut benefits for disabled veterans,” Sanders said.  “Let ‘em take that argument to the American people.”

Sanders took particular aim at two options that have been proffered as middle grounds: raising the Medicare eligibility age by two years and calculating inflation differently.  The latter idea, swapping the current consumer price index (CPI) for the 0.3-percent-smaller “chained CPI,” would affect multiple entitlements, including Social Security and veterans’ benefits.

Democrats are being asked to consider entitlement reforms as part of a deficit-reduction plan to avoid automatic cuts set for the end of the year.  Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., appeared at the Center for American Progress last week to ask progressives to consider cuts as part of a compromise.

“We can’t be so naive as to believe that just taxing the rich is going to solve our problems,” Durbin said in his speech there last Tuesday.  

At the National Press Club, Sanders offered a progressive counterpoint.

“We have got to stand tall and say that, in the middle of this recession, we’ve got 50 million people who have no health insurance at all.  We ain’t gonna cut Medicare.  We’re not gonna throw children off of Medicaid,” Sanders said.

“And yes, despite all of the power that our friends on Wall Street have, and the fact that they own many of the politicians here in Washington, some of us are gonna stand with working families, low-income families, disabled veterans and senior citizens,” he added.

Sanders proposed allowing the high-income Bush tax cuts to expire, eliminating corporate tax loopholes, ending tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies, cutting Pentagon spending and allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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


Sen. Sanders Sends Out Fundraising Email Citing Arizona Tragedy

Photo Courtesy - Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(MONTPELIER, Vt.) -- Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, sent out a fundraising email Wednesday to supporters in which he includes his analysis of the Arizona shootings that ties the tragedy to “right-wing reactionaries.”

“This horrendous act of violence is not some kind of strange aberration for this area where, it appears, threats and acts of violence are part of the political climate,” Sanders said in his letter. “Nobody can honestly express surprise that such a tragedy finally occurred.”

The Vermont senator, who caucuses with Democrats, cited past Arizona incidents, such as vandalism at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district office after the health care reform vote and Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” map, as well as other outbreaks of violence like when a bullet was shot into Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office.

"In light of all of this violence -- both actual and threatened -- is Arizona a state in which people who are not Republicans are able to participate freely and fully in the democratic process?” asks Sanders. “Have right-wing reactionaries, through threats and acts of violence, intimidated people with different points of view from expressing their political positions?”

“My colleague, Senator John McCain, issued a very strong statement after the shooting in which he condemned the perpetrator of the attack. I commend him for that. But I believe Senator McCain and other Arizona Republicans need to do more,” Sanders said. “As the elder statesman of Arizona politics McCain needs to stand up and denounce the increasingly violent rhetoric coming from the right-wing and exert his influence to create a civil political environment in his state.”

Republicans quickly started to flag the email as an attempt by Sanders to raise money off of the tragedy.

A spokesman for Sen. Sanders has defended the fundraising email by saying that Sanders regularly sends out such letters to supporters giving his views on key issues and “it would have been absurd not to comment on what happened” in Arizona.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Working Overtime: Sanders' Senate Floor Rant Runs Over Eight Hours

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., protested the tax bill on the Senate floor for more than eight hours Friday. As Friday afternoon drifted into Friday evening drifted into Friday night, Sanders was still as passionate as he had been Friday morning. He finally yielded the floor about at 7pm eastern time.

Sanders denounced the tax bill as “a bad deal for the American people” and promised to “take a strong stand” against it. His main concern is that the deal will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at great costs to the nation’s already-soaring deficit.

“How can I get by on one house?” Sanders said. “I need five houses, 10 houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We've got the money, we've got the power, we've got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That's the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks.”

Sanders said his office has received over 5,000 calls and emails against the tax bill agreement.

“Vote against this agreement because it is driving up the national debt and it is doing so by giving tax breaks to millionaires that don’t really need them,” he implored his fellow senators.

Sen. Harry Reid announced Thursday night the first procedural vote on the bill will take place on Monday.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint Opposes Tax Deal

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina says he will oppose the tax deal President Obama made with the Republican leadership.  He’ll join the likes of liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in filibustering it.

“Most of us who ran this election said we weren’t going to vote for anything that increased the deficit.  This does,” DeMint said Wednesday morning on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

DeMint doesn’t like the fact that the tax cut extension is temporary and he doesn’t like the extension of unemployment insurance.

“I don’t think we need to extend unemployment any further without paying for it, and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point.  It then encourages people to go back to work,” DeMint said.  “The biggest problem I have is we don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate.  A permanent extension of our current tax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.”

Even the estate tax provision -- which has enraged liberals because it would cut the scheduled increase in the estate tax from 55 percent to 35 percent and only applies to estates valued at over $5 million -- doesn’t satisfy DeMint.

“It raises the death tax,” DeMint says, presumably because this year, in an anomaly, the estate tax is zero percent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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