The above sited exchange commences at the 43.09 mark on the progress bar.
Prefatory Remarks: Remark 1:
The United States government works on an October 1 through September 30 fiscal year. The current 2008 budget was submitted and approved in early 2007. The budget presented, constitutionally first to the House of Representatives, then to the Senate, is for 2009, to take effect October 1 this year.
In testimony before the Budget Committee, not transcribed here, Director Nussel, under hostile questioning, acknowledged: A.) the submitted budget proposes only $70 billion for the combined wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, B.) that the president’s proposals are neither fact- nor experience based, C.) that the cost of current combat operations approximate $85 billion per year, D.) the president’s budget forecast for 2010 operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are ZERO DOLLARS!
Remark 3: The president’s budget effectively would cut veterans VA medical benefits by requiring most current recipients to pay an up front fee for medical services.
Senator Sanders: Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, Jim . . . I strongly concur with Senator Conrad’s (D-ND) comments about what a disastrous budget this is, and the very negative impact that it will have on the future of this country and our kids, and our grandchildren. But I want to take this discussion a little bit away from the issue of the national debt, as important as that is, and the deficit. I want to talk about this budget means to ordinary human beings, and to try to understand the moral values that have been placed in this budget, or I should perhaps say the lack of moral values. Ah, Senator Bunning (R-KY) a moment ago talked about tax burdens in this, ah, country.
Ah, but let me talk about, ah, who pays the taxes, who earns the money in this country. Mr. Director, as I’m sure you’re aware, the United States has by far the most unequal distribution of wealth, income and wealth, of any major country on earth, and increasingly we’re looking more like Brazil and Mexico than we are like Europe and Scandinavia, and other industrialized, ah, countries. When Senator Conrad talks about legacy, for this president, what we should be aware of, since President Bush has been in office, five million more people have slipped into poverty, the middle-class has shrunk, the median-family income has declined by over a thousand dollars, eight million Americans have lost their health insurance, three million Americans have lost their pensions, and yes! some people have done very well. And those are the people on top (right arm points into the air). And of all of the statistics that we throw out around here, I want to throw out one statistic that I want to get your comment on.
Director Nussel, according to the latest reports from the IRS, the wealthiest 1/10th of 1 percent, one-tenth of one percent, three hundred thousand men, women and children, now earn more income than do the bottom 150 million Americans! One-tenth of one percent, more income than 50 percent of the American people, and that gap is growing wider. What is your sense about what it means to the future of this country, and economic justice that we have such an unequal distribution of income and wealth?
Director Nussel: Well, first of all, ah Mr. San . . ., ah Senator Sanders, I, ah, ah, I have not thought about that question. I will, I will . . .
Senator Sanders: Don’t you think it’s a question that you should think about?
Director Nussel: I will give it some thought. Ah, I have given some thought to, ah, tax distribution, and tax reform, and, ah, I would agree with you that, ah, our tax code, ah, needs to be reformed. And there are, ah, there are, ah, problems within our tax code that, ah, that, ah, need to be rooted out, and that we have the top 1 percent of the tax code, of the people paying taxes in this country pay 40 percent of all the taxes. The top 5 percent pay 59 percent . . .
Senator Sanders: But you’ve given me an example of the facts that the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent earn more income than do the bottom 50 percent.
Director Nussel: They also pay taxes.