WASHINGTON, June 12 - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today told a rally on Capitol Hill that Congress must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid during a new round of budget negotiations this year.
"Yes, we have to deal with deficit reduction, but not on the backs of the most vulnerable people in this country," Sanders told 200 people gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol.
Sanders said seniors and the disabled should not bear the brunt of reversing deficits driven up by the costs of wars, tax breaks for the wealthy and the recession.
"Let's be clear," Sanders stressed. "We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because George Bush took us into two wars and forgot to pay for them. We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because Bush and his friends decided to give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. We are in the midst of a deficit crisis because this recession caused by the greed of Wall Street has resulted in substantially less revenue coming into federal coffers.
"In my view," Sanders added, "it is immoral and bad economics to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid because the president and Congress forgot to pay for wars and gave huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country."
The "My Medicaid Matters" rally was organized by the National Council on Independent Living.
Medicaid is critical to millions of Americans and provides a safety net to families, pregnant women, children, people with disabilities, and people in need of long term care. In fact, Medicaid pays for over 60 percent of long-term care in this country, and is a critical service that helps keep millions of people out of the hospital and helps them stay at home, where they want to be.
"Our fight now is to make sure that Social Security is not cut, because Social Security is life and death for seniors and people with disabilities. Our job is to make sure that Medicare is not cut or that the eligibility age is not raised, and our job is to make sure that Medicaid remains strong and is not cut," Sanders said.