Sanders Says Simpson-Bowles Must Not Shape Deficit Debate

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 – With Congress and the White House in the midst of deficit negotiations, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today called on colleagues to reject proposals by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Erskine Bowles that would hurt working families and help the wealthiest Americans and profitable corporations.

The Simpson-Bowles plan “will cause major economic pain to virtually every American while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires and large corporations,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Sanders sent a letter to Senate colleagues on the same day when Bowles and other business leaders were meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). One of the business leaders set to accompany Bowles was Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who recently called for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “Just think about the arrogance of these guys on Wall Street who were bailed out by the middle class of this country when their greed and recklessness nearly destroyed the international financial system and now they come to Capitol Hill to lecture Congress and the American people about the need to cut programs for working families who are struggling because of the recession they caused,” Sanders commented.

In his letter to colleagues, Sanders laid out examples of Simpson’s hostility to Social Security and highlighted his “rude, inaccurate, and derogatory statements.” He also faulted Simpson and Bowles for misusing their positions to engage in partisan politics. Before the Nov. 6 election, for example, Bowles showered praise on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan (watch the video) to slash Social Security and eliminate Medicare.

“Even more distressing, in my opinion, is the belief that the Simpson-Bowles plan is a balanced approach to deficit reduction that we should be using as a model,” Sanders said in the letter.

Sanders today also released a new Congressional Research Service study which undercuts a key Simpson-Bowles claim. They say lowering the top tax rate and reducing so-called tax expenditures like the popular home mortgage interest deduction would somehow yield $1.2 trillion in revenue. In fact, according to the study by the non-partisan research arm of Congress, the Simpson-Bowles tax plan could shave tax rates by no more than 2 percentage points and would not reduce the deficit.

Sanders has detailed his own proposals to cut unnecessary spending and increase revenue in order to lower deficits.