Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bernie Sanders Rails Against GOP Budget As Boost To Income Inequality

WASHINGTON -- To Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the new Republican budgets offered this week aren't so much spending blueprints as they are promises to help the rich get richer and boost income inequality.

There are some large differences between the House GOP budget offered Tuesday and the Senate plan unveiled Wednesday. The House version includes deeper cuts to the safety net, for example, along with significantly greater military spending.

But to Sanders, the top minority member of the Senate Budget Committee, neither version of the budget would do much to help working-class Americans, students, the elderly or the sick -- although they both offer plenty of handouts to wealthy taxpayers and corporations.

"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, my Republican colleagues apparently believe that the richest people in this country need to be made even richer," said Sanders after Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) unveiled the Senate document at a committee meeting Wednesday. "It is apparently not good enough that 99 percent of all new income today is going to the top 1 percent. It is not good enough that the top one-tenth of 1 percent today own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent."

"Clearly, in the eyes of many Republicans, the wealthy and the powerful need more help," Sanders added. "Not only should they not be asked to pay more in taxes, my Republican colleagues believe we should cut tax rates for millionaires and billionaires."

The budget does not actually specify new breaks for the rich, but it does assume that existing breaks won't expire as currently scheduled. It also instructs Senate committees to draw up plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would likely cost middle-class Americans the subsidies they get to buy health insurance.

To Sanders, that's just one more way the budget would hurt the middle class while helping the wealthy. And he sees it all as part of a 40-year trend in which Washington has made life in America harder for those not at the top of the economic ladder.

"It is not good enough that corporate America is enjoying record-breaking profits, and that the CEOs of large corporations earn some 290 times more than what their average employees earn," he said. "It is apparently not good enough that since 1985 the top one-tenth of 1 percent has seen a more than $8 trillion increase in its wealth than what they would have had if wealth inequality had stayed at the same level that it was in 1985. An $8 trillion increase in the wealth of the top one-tenth of 1 percent! But for many of my Republican colleagues, [it's] just not good enough."

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