WASHINGTON, April 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he will vote against a bill that cuts more than $38 billion from programs that help working families without calling for shared sacrifice by the wealthiest Americans.
Bush-era tax breaks for the very rich were extended and expanded last December – driving up the deficit. “Today, in order to reduce deficits that Republicans helped create, they now are slashing programs of enormous importance to working families, the elderly, the sick and children,” Sanders said. “At a time when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse. It takes from struggling working families and gives to multi-millionaires. This is obscene.”
While it is too soon to determine the exact impact the cuts will have on Vermont, Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said “there can be no doubt that these cuts will be devastating to working families in Vermont and throughout the country.”
At a time of soaring fuel prices, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would be cut by $390 million.
At a time when college education has become unaffordable for many, Pell grants would be reduced by an estimated $35 billion over 10 years, including a nearly $500 million cut this year.
At a time when 50 million Americans have no health insurance, community health centers would be cut by $600 million and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would be cut by $3.5 billion.
At a time when poverty is increasing, the Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program for low-income pregnant women would be cut by $504 million.
At a time when we have to put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, federal funding for high-speed rail would be eliminated, representing a cut of $2.9 billion. Public transportation would be cut by nearly $1 billion, a 20 percent reduction.
At a time when police departments are struggling with inadequate budgets, local law enforcement funding would be cut by $296 million.
At a time when homelessness is increasing, public housing would be cut by $605 million.
“This budget moves America in exactly the wrong direction,” Sanders said. “While there is no question that we must reduce soaring deficits, it must be done in a way that is fair, which protects the most vulnerable people in our country, and which requires shared sacrifice. I will not support a budget that will cut programs for struggling working families, the elderly, children and the poor while expanding tax breaks for billionaires, maintaining corporate tax loopholes and increasing military spending. That is just plain wrong.”
In the coming weeks, Sanders said he will work with colleagues in the Senate and House on a deficit-reduction package that is fair to all, and does not balance the budget only on the backs of working families.