RELEASE: Sanders Says Congress is ‘Way Out of Touch’ on Budget Priorities
April 20, 2011
BURLINGTON, Vt., April 20 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that new national surveys show that Congress is "way out of touch with the American people" on how to reduce deficits.
"At a time when not a single Republican in Congress is prepared to ask the wealthiest people in this country to pay a little more to help bring down deficits, an overwhelming majority of Americans see things differently," Sanders said.
According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 72 percent of Americans support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000 - including 91 percent of Democrats; 68 percent of independents; and 54 percent of Republicans. A separate McClatchy-Marist poll on how to tackle the deficit found similar results. Voters by a margin of 2-to-1 support raising taxes on incomes above $250,000, with 64 percent in favor and 33 percent opposed.
"The American people are clear. They do not want to savage Medicare and Medicaid while giving even more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, yet the Republicans have proposed exactly that," Sanders said. "Republicans and too many Democrats in Congress are listening to campaign contributors and lobbyists while the American people want something entirely different."
Sanders has scheduled a series of town meetings next week in Vermont that will focus on the impact of a budget approved last Friday by the House that would dismantle Medicare and Medicaid, slash other programs and give away another $1 trillion in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations.
The Washington Post and ABC News survey found that Americans prefer to keep Medicare the way it is and oppose cuts in Medicaid. More than half say they are against small, across-the-board tax increases while calls to raise tax rates on the wealthiest Americans enjoyed solid support.
Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, has proposed legislation to impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires that would raise up to $50 billion a year in new revenue. He also has called for eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies and loopholes that corporations use to shelter income overseas.
"While we have to move toward a balanced budget, we have to do it in a responsible way," Sanders said. "We need shared sacrifice, not just cuts that balance the budget on the backs of the sick, children, the poor and the elderly."