Sanders Calls for Shared Sacrifice
BURLINGTON, Vt., March 14 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today detailed how Vermonters would be hurt by budget cuts recommended by congressional Republicans.
“The rich are getting richer. The middle class and poor are getting poorer. Meanwhile, we have a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit and a $14 trillion dollar national debt. What is the Republican solution to the deficit crisis? More tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Savage cuts in programs that are desperately needed by working families,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
The House-passed budget bill would throw 336 Vermont children off of Head Start and cut or eliminate Pell grants for 13,000 Vermont college students. The average Vermont college student would see their tuition assistance fall by $700.
In addition, some 37,000 Vermonters would lose access to primary health care because of a $1.3 billion cut to community health centers.
In cold weather states like Vermont, where temperatures sometimes fall to 20 below zero, home heating assistance is critically important. Republicans would cut $400 million from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. They also would chop nutrition funding through the Women, Infants and Children program.
Joining Sanders at the press conference were Hal Cohen, executive director of Central Vermont Community Action; Paul Behrman, Head Start director for the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity; Karen Madden, director, of academic support services at Johnson State College; Rebecca Ryan, director of health promotion at the Vermont Lung Association; and Dr. Stephen Reville, chief medical officer of Springfield Medical Systems.
“In my view, we do need to boldly address our deficit crisis, but we need to do it in a way that is fair - that is not on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the children and the poor. In other words, we need shared sacrifice,” Sanders said.
He proposed legislation to place a 5.4 percent emergency surtax on income over $1 million. Up to $50 billion a year in added revenue would go into an Emergency Deficit Reduction Fund. Sanders’ legislation also would eliminate tax loopholes that enable the big oil companies avoid taxes.
“The American people get it,” Sanders said. “They understand that we cannot move toward deficit reduction just by cutting programs that working families, the middle class, and low-income people desperately need. They understand that serious, responsible deficit reduction requires shared sacrifice. They know that at a time when the top 1 percent earn more income than the bottom 50 percent, that when the effective tax rate for the rich is now lower than at any time in recent history, that it is absurd not to ask the wealthiest people in this country to provide additional revenue to help us lower the deficit.”