Who Will Pay Billions for Bailouts? Sanders Spells Out Four Principles

BURLINGTON, Vt., September 20 - As members of Congress and the Bush administration worked through the weekend on an economic rescue package, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) detailed his own four-part plan for dealing with the crisis, including a surtax on the very wealthy.

"If this bailout is necessary, it should not be middle income or working families who have to pay for it," Sanders said. "It should be the people who benefited from President Bush's disastrous policies, including the very wealthiest people in this country."

To pay for a bailout, he elaborated, the government should impose a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would yield more than $300 billion in revenue

At the same time, Sanders said, a major economic recovery package is needed to put Americans to work at decent wages. "We can create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We must protect working families from the difficult times they are experiencing. We must ensure that every child has health insurance and that every American has access to quality health and dental care, that families can send their children to college, that seniors are not allowed to go without heat in the winter, and that no American goes to bed hungry."

A return to stronger regulation of businesses was proposed by the senator. "Legislation must be passed which undoes the damage caused by excessive deregulation. That means reinstalling the regulatory firewalls that were ripped down in 1999. That means reregulating the energy markets so that we never again see the rampant speculation in oil that helped drive up prices. That means regulating or abolishing various financial instruments that have created the enormous shadow banking system that is at the heart of the collapse of AIG and the financial services meltdown."

Sanders also advocated dismantling giant corporations like those that got the country and Wall Street into the crisis. "We must end the danger posed by companies that are ‘too big to fail,' that is, companies whose failure would cause systemic harm to the U.S. economy. If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."

Sanders spelled out his proposals in a column. To read the complete article on the senator's Web site, click here.