Sanders Spells out Priorities as Budget Ranking Member

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today warned against Republican efforts to cut Social Security and other programs that help working families.

In remarks at a Capitol Hill news conference, Sanders warned that benefits for the disabled and their children face a 20 percent cut next year if the Senate follows the lead of House Republicans. A new House rule creates a legal obstacle course that would make it harder to shift funds from the Social Security retirement account, which has a big surplus, to the smaller disability account.

“On the very first day of Congress, the Republicans in the House made a change in its rules that could lead to a 20 percent cut in Social Security disability benefits for 11 million Americans, including 2 million children, more than a million veteran and more than 150,000 surviving spouses.  In other words, in the midst of massive wealth and income inequality, the Republicans want to make huge cuts in a program that benefits some of the most vulnerable people in this country,” Sanders said.

Sanders also said he will fight to stop proposals in last year’s House-passed budget which called for massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition, affordable housing and other programs while providing huge tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations. “That is a budget approach which moves us in exactly the wrong direction.  Needless to say, I will do everything that I can to oppose a similar type of budget if that is what the Republicans will be proposing this year,” Sanders said at the news conference.

In the Senate, Sanders said he looks forward to working with Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and others to prepare a budget that addresses what Sanders termed “the reality of American life.”

In the coming weeks, Sanders said the budget must reflect the reality that while the economy has made significant gains in the last six years, the American middle class has been declining for 40 years.  Meanwhile, the wealthy and large corporations are doing phenomenally well. “Millions of men and women in this country are working longer hours for lower wages than they did years ago. Meanwhile, in the midst of this collapsing middle class, the wealthiest people and largest corporations have never had it so good.

To read the senator’s full statement, click here.