WASHINGTON, March 13 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today as the committee began hearings on a plan for the 2014 fiscal year that mixes tax increase with cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs:
“The resolution that we will be debating in the Budget Committee today is a step in the right direction.
“At a time when the real unemployment rate is 14.3 percent, this budget resolution will put millions of Americans back to work in decent-paying jobs rebuilding our roads, bridges, dams, culverts, sewers, schools, and other infrastructure needs. This is a step in the right direction, but I would do much more. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to invest $2.2 trillion over the next five years just to get a passing grade on our infrastructure needs.
“At a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high and corporate revenue as a percentage of the economy is near an all-time low, this budget resolution begins to make sure that the most profitable corporations will contribute to deficit reduction. This budget resolution raises $975 billion in revenue over the next decade. Altogether, 36 percent of the $4 trillion in deficit reduction achieved under this budget resolution would come from ending tax loopholes and increasing tax rates on the wealthy. I would have gone much further by making sure that at least 50 percent of deficit reduction since 2010 was achieved by raising revenue from the wealthy and large corporations.
“At a time when the middle class is collapsing, poverty increasing and the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider, this budget resolution keeps the promises we have made to our seniors, veterans and the most vulnerable by protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid against benefit cuts.
“Let me be clear. The Senate resolution is much better than the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Unlike the House plan, the Senate resolution will not end Medicare as we know it. Instead, it protects earned Medicare benefits for both current and future beneficiaries.
“Unlike the Ryan budget, the Senate resolution will not slash Pell grants by $80 billion or eliminate college grants for up to 1 million students. Instead, it protects Pell grants for 9 million low-income college students.
“Unlike the Ryan budget, this Senate resolution will not kick up to 24 million Americans off of Medicaid. Rather, it will protect Medicaid benefits.
“Unlike the Ryan budget, the Senate resolution will not repeal the Affordable Care Act and prevent over 30 million Americans from getting the health insurance they need.
“And unlike the Ryan budget, this Senate resolution will not provide a $7 trillion tax break that will primarily benefit the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations, paid for by increasing taxes on the middle class.”