Sanders Amendment: Make Wall Street Pay for Bailout

WASHINGTON, October 1 - The Senate today will debate an amendment by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to impose a surtax on the wealthiest Americans to pay for a $700 billion emergency bailout.

"Having mismanaged the economy for eight years while continually insisting that the ‘fundamentals of our economy are strong,' the Bush administration now wants the middle class of this country to bail out Wall Street," Sanders said. "Meanwhile the wealthiest people, those who have benefited most from Bush's policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all. This is absurd."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) set aside one hour to consider the Sanders Amendment to raise $300 billion from a five-year, 10 percent surtax on couples with incomes of more than $1 million and individuals earning $500,000. It is the only amendment being offered to the bill.

"Vermonters and people across America are saying very clearly that this bailout is a bad idea and that the struggling middle class should not have to pay for the greed and excesses of Wall Street. I have received hundreds of calls and more than 2,000 e-mails from Vermonters, almost all of them against this plan. More than 47,000 people all over the country have joined me in signing a letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson opposing any bailout paid for by the middle class," Sanders said.

"While the Bush administration has quickly rallied to help Wall Street, it has ignored the needs of the declining middle class. Since President Bush has been in office the wealthiest people in this country have made out like bandits and have not had it so good since the 1920s. The top 0.1 percent now earn more income than the bottom 50 percent of Americans and the top one percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. Incredibly, the richest 400 people in our country saw their wealth increase by $670 billion during the Bush presidency.

Sanders also has said that any effective program to help the economy also should re-regulate the financial services industry, include an economic recovery program to put Americans to work at decent wages, and break up huge companies so that there is no longer anything that is too big to fail.

To read the Sanders' amendment, click here.