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A Pivotal Moment In American History

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bernie Sanders       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Here is something we all can agree on: Federal deficits are a serious problem.

Here is something no one seriously disputes: Today's big deficits were caused mainly by big tax cuts for the wealthy, two unpaid-for wars, a horrible recession caused by Wall Street greed, and an expensive prescription drug program rigged to favor pharmaceutical companies.

Here is something we should not agree to do: Cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

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There is surprisingly broad consensus among Americans (except inside the corporate-dominated D.C. beltway) on what to do about deficits.

In poll after poll, strong majorities favor making the wealthiest Americans, who, in many cases, have never had it so good, share the sacrifice and pay a little more in taxes. Increasing taxes on the wealthy is overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and independents. A majority of Republicans and people in the Tea Party movement also support taxing millionaires to help bring down deficits. Even many millionaires say they should be paying higher taxes. At a time when many profitable corporations pay nothing in federal income taxes, there also is widespread support for closing corporate tax loopholes. Taking a hard look at mushrooming defense spending also enjoys widespread support.

In the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer...

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For far too long, the Washington agenda has been set by powerful corporate interests and a right wing that do not represent the needs and aspirations of most Americans.

For too long, the Democrats have gone along with Republican demands and caved in to these powerful special interests. Enough is enough!  The Democrats must stand tall and continue to resist Republican demands to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while leaving the wealthiest people and largest corporations in this country exempt from shouldering their fair share of the tax burden.

As a Thanksgiving deadline nears for action by the powerful Super Committee on deficit reduction, I am outraged (but not surprised) that Republicans refuse to listen to the American people and continue to insist on supporting their wealthy friends and corporate benefactors. I hope that Democrats will not once again capitulate just for the sake of an agreement but will instead demand that deficit reduction is done in a fair and responsible way. But that has, unfortunately, not been their pattern.

In December -- when Democrats controlled the Senate, the House and the White House -- Congress and President Obama not only extended Bush-era tax breaks for the wealthy but also gave new breaks to heirs of the super-rich.

In April -- with a Democrat in the White House and Democrats still in the majority in the Senate -- Republicans threatened to shut down the government and delay the processing of new Social Security benefits for senior citizens unless their demands were met. Democrats went along with $78 billion in cuts from the president's budget request.

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In August, in an outrageous display of unprincipled gamesmanship, Republicans put the United States on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of invoking clear 14th Amendment powers to honor our nation's debts, the president and most Democrats agreed to a $2.5 trillion deficit-reduction package.

That's how we got to where we are today.

Incredibly, throughout all of these negotiations -- in December, in April, in August and again today -- the wealthiest Americans and the country's major corporations have not yet been asked to contribute one penny toward deficit reduction. That is despite huge cuts in life-and-death programs for working families.

The American people have had it. The Occupy Wall Street movement is growing, and energizing young people in particular in a way that we have not seen for many years. A virtual popular uprising forced Bank of America to drop an unpopular $5 monthly debit card fee. On Election Day 2011, in Ohio and many other states the American people said NO to right-wing extremism and corporate greed.

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Bernie Sanders is the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. He is a member of the Senate's Budget, Veterans, Environment, Energy, and H.E.L.P. (Health, Education, (more...)
 

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