BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 26 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today at a news conference in his Burlington office alongside Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream:
“I will be going back to Washington on Monday and the very important issue that we’re going to talk about this morning is something that will be coming up in the Senate very shortly – perhaps as early as next week. And that is whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended for the top 2 percent, or whether we just continue that tax relief for the bottom 98 percent?
“In my view, we should not extend these tax cuts for the very wealthiest people in this country - and I say that for several reasons. First, at a time when this country has a $13.7 trillion national debt it would be a huge mistake, over a ten year period, to add another $700 billion to that debt by providing more tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country.
“Further, this country already has the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country. While the middle class is in decline, the people on top are already doing extremely well. For people earning more than $1 million a year, the continuation of the Bush-era tax cuts would amount to an average tax break of about $100,000 a year. With the top one percent already earning, in 2007, 23.5 percent of all income in this country – more than the bottom 50 percent makes, that would be morally unfair and economically unwise. Lastly, if we provide these tax breaks to people who don’t need them and drive up the national debt, the demand to cut spending on programs of importance to the middle class and working families of our country would only accelerate. That means cuts in health care, education, nutrition, housing, LIHEAP, etc.
“On another issue, but one which I also expect to be coming up shortly, I will be doing everything I can to make sure that seniors and disabled veterans get, at the very least, a onetime emergency $250 check in lieu of the lack of a Social Security COLA this year. A lot of seniors in Vermont are hurting, their health care and prescription drug costs are going up, and they need help. I brought this issue up in March, and we only got 47 votes. This time I hope we can succeed.”