WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 – The Senate tonight passed and sent to President Barack Obama a budget that averts another government shutdown, eases sharp spending cuts known as sequestration and spares Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from proposed cuts in benefits.
In what he called a difficult decision, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted with the 64 - 36 majority to pass the budget package but voiced disappointment that it does nothing to create jobs and continues tax breaks for profitable corporations.
The budget keeps the government running and avoids cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The threatened cuts in the retirement and health care programs were staved off thanks in part to a petition drive Sanders organized. As founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, Sanders worked with seniors’ organizations and others to gather more than 700,000 signatures from opponents of the cuts.
The budget also restores some of the across-the-board spending cuts. “It will allow modest increases in funding for programs that are important to many Vermonters like Head Start, Meals on Wheels, low-income heating assistance and education,” Sanders said.
A member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders faulted the bill for doing nothing to create jobs. “At a time when Americans are clear about the need to create millions of new jobs, this bill does nothing about high unemployment. In fact, it doesn’t even help the 1.3 million Americans who are about to lose their unemployment benefits,” Sanders said.
He also had hoped the agreement would do more to lower deficits by closing tax loopholes that benefit profitable corporations and wealthy individuals. “I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues continue to protect corporate loopholes which are costing us about $100 billion every single year,” Sanders said. “At a time of growing income and wealth inequality, this budget doesn’t ask the wealthy and profitable corporations to pay a nickel more in taxes,” he added.