The Week in Review

The Senate Budget Committee on Thursday approved a plan that would reduce the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years through a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. The panel added amendments by Sen. Bernie Sanders to end offshore tax havens and raise the minimum wage. In the House, meanwhile, a budget was proposed that would make drastic spending cuts without asking the wealthy and profitable corporations to contribute to deficit reduction. “Disastrous” and “insane” were two words Sanders used to describe what House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan proposed. Earlier in the week, Sanders chaired a Wednesday hearing on a claims backlog at the VA. And on Tuesday he introduced a constitutional amendment that would undo Citizens United, the notorious Supreme Court ruling that voided campaign finance regulations.

Budget Committee One Sanders amendment approved by the committee would go after tax-dodging corporations.  A second one supports increasing the minimum wage. Both Sanders amendments were approved by votes of 12 to 10. House Republicans, meanwhile, offered what Sanders called a “disastrous” budget that would cut programs for working families. “It is insane to simply talk about ‘cut, cut, cut’ when you’ve got the wealthiest people and large corporations doing phenomenally well and paying lower effective tax rates than they should,” Sanders said Thursday on The Cycle on MSNBC. Watch the MSNBC interview

Tax Havens The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that its own analysis of 60 big U.S. companies found that they parked $166 billion offshore last year. Sanders has called for closing those tax loopholes to help bring down deficits. “At a time when we have a $16.6 trillion national debt; at a time when roughly one-quarter of the largest corporations in America are paying no federal income taxes; and at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high, it is past time for corporate America to contribute significantly to deficit reduction,” he said.

Sign the Petition A grassroots movement was launched by Sanders to send a message to President Obama and congressional leaders not to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in our country. The petition opposes Obama’s effort to cut Social Security and veterans’ benefits by changing how the consumer price index is calculated in a way rigged to result in smaller annual cost-of-living increases.  The petition also calls for help putting Americans back to work and insists that the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share for deficit reduction. Sign the petition

VA Claims Backlog The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing Wednesday on a claims backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sanders, the committee chairman, said 70 percent of 895,000 current claims have been pending for more than 125 days. “When men and women put their lives on the line defending this country, they must be treated with respect and dignity when they return, not with red tape and bureaucracy, not with, in some cases, years of delay.” To the VA’s credit, Sanders said, more than 1 million claims were processed in each of the past three years, more than ever before. He welcomed the “very ambitious goal” set by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki of eliminating the backlog by 2015. Watch the senator’s opening statement

Citizens United A constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unrestricted, secret campaign spending by corporations and billionaires was introduced on Tuesday in the Senate by Sanders and in the House by Rep. Ted Deutch. The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission undermined democracy by opening the campaign spending floodgates. Already 11 states including Vermont and more than 300 cities and towns have passed resolutions calling for the ruling to be overturned. Read more