The Week in Review

President Obama and congressional leaders opened negotiations Friday at the White House on ways to lower the national deficit. “Deficit reduction is a serious issue,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told a jam-packed Capitol Hill rally on Thursday. “There are fair ways to reduce the $1 trillion federal deficit, but balancing the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor is not among them.” In a Senate floor speech on Wednesday, Sanders invoked Ronald Reagan as a defender of Social Security.

Save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid 

“We must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children or the poor,” Sanders told a packed Senate hearing room on Thursday. The crowd of more than 200 spilled into an overflow room to watch Sanders, Sens. Tom Harkin and Sheldon Whitehouse and progressive House members speak. The event was held one day before congressional leaders met at the White House to begin budget negotiations in earnest. “We’re going to send a loud message to the leadership in the House, in the Senate and President Obama: Do not cut Social Security, do not cut Medicare, do not cut Medicaid.” 

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Ronald Reagan was Right 

“Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security that money would not go into the general fund to reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security trust fund. So, Social Security has nothing to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit.” The date was Oct. 7, 1984. The president was Ronald Reagan. “I don't often agree with Ronald Reagan, but he is absolutely right,” Sanders said in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday quoting the 40th president. 

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Global Warming 

“Scientists who study the issue now believe that the worst case scenario projection may be, unfortunately, tragically, the right one. They are talking about the possibility of this planet warming by eight degrees by the end of this century  … It should be the top priority of everybody in the United States Congress.” 

Watch Thomas Roberts interview Sanders on MSNBC »
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BP Fined $4.5 Billion 

The British oil company agreed on Thursday to pay $4.5 billion and to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges related to a Gulf of Mexico rig explosion two years ago that killed 11 people and caused a giant oil spill. BP employees also face charges for manslaughter, misleading Congress and other crimes. A Justice Department probe of BP was requested in a May 17, 2010, letter signed by Sanders and spearheaded by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Hands Off Social Security Summit