BRATTLEBORO -- The richest 400 people in the United States possess more money than all of the 150 million people together at the lower rungs of the nation’s economic ladder, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
"The Republican idea that the only way you do deficit reduction is by making savage cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, to nutrition for children and to environmental protection and not ask the wealthiest people and the largest corporations to chip in one more nickel ... that approach really makes little sense," said Sanders.
On Sunday, June 26, Sanders posted on his website a letter urging President Barack Obama to rely on revenue from the wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations for at least half of any deficit reduction package.
Since then, more than 115,000 Americans have signed the letter, which Sanders delivered to the White House on July 5.
More than 4,000 people in Vermont were among those who signed the letter, including Carol Grant, 72, from Wilmington.
"Multi-billionaires can support their own projects while seniors and disabled families on Medicare and Medicaid don’t have multi-billionaires to speak for them," said Grant.
According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, 81 percent of Americans support raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires and 68 percent support eliminating the Bush tax cuts.
And recent polls in five 2012 battleground states show that seven in 10 likely voters favor requiring employees and employers to pay Social Security taxes on all wages above $106,800 to keep Social Security solvent.
Those who favored increasing taxes on the wealthy included 77 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Independents, and even 65 percent of Tea Party supporters.
Despite the poll numbers, Grant said those making legislative decisions in Washington, D.C., aren’t listening to the people.
"They say they’re speaking for the American public," said Grant. "At least that’s what they told us in the last election."
Nick Partrick, 63, of Vernon, agreed with Grant, saying the nation’s elected officials in D.C., are not doing what the people want.
"They talk shared sacrifice, but it’s us the workers who are sacrificing," said Partrick, who also signed the letter.
He said it’s just wrong that the rich are getting richer "by the minute," while everyone else is being asked to tighten their belts.
"There’s no logic to it," said Partrick. "It’s all greed."
Sanders said the reason why the voices of average Americans aren’t being heard in D.C. is because "they don’t make a whole lot of campaign contributions."
"The truth is, Washington is very heavily dominated by wealthy individuals and corporations and their lobbyists," he said, adding "It’s not the moral thing to do" to ask those who have been hardest hit by the recession to bear the brunt of the economic costs.
"And from an economic sense it just doesn’t make sense," said Sanders. "Putting money into the pockets of working people who buy products increases employment."