Sen. Sanders sets Obama, supercommittee straight

By:  John Nichols

Declaring that "Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history," and decrying threats to Medicare and Medicaid that would punish Americans who did not cause the current economic crisis, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders brought thousands of progressives from across Wisconsin to their feet Saturday at Fighting Bob Fest. They were cheering his message to President Obama and the congressional "supercommittee": "We can deal with deficit reduction in a way that is fair and responsible."

"Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable," Sanders said, "it is time to ask the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to pay their fair share."

In several speeches to crowds numbering in the thousands who gathered for Fighting Bob Fest events in Madison Friday and Saturday, Sanders spelled out the progressive economic agenda - opposition to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to balance budgets and address deficits, and support for tax policies that end special breaks for the wealthy and multinational corporations that offshore jobs from the United States.

Sanders credited the Obama White House's decision to reject "changes to Social Security" as part of a deficit reduction strategy.

"I am delighted that the White House has decided not to cut benefits under the program that has kept millions of retirees out of poverty," the senator said in Madison. "Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus, can pay out every benefit for the next 27 years and has not contributed one nickel to the deficit. Social Security should be strengthened, not cut."


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