As I’m sure you are aware, there is currently a major effort being waged by Wall Street CEOs, Republicans and some Democrats to do deficit reduction on the backs of the middle class and working families.
President Obama and the Democrats won a decisive victory on Election Day. The people have spoken and the Democratic Leadership must make it very clear that they intend to stand with the middle class and working families of our country, and not the Big Money interests. This means that in the coming weeks and months the Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done in a way that is fair — and not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.
As Congress reconvenes and addresses the so-called "fiscal cliff," I have outlined several ways that we can do deficit reduction without cutting the programs that working families rely on most:
- At a time when the wealthiest people in our country are doing phenomenally well, we must eliminate the Bush tax cuts favoring the top 2 percent.
- At a time when corporate profits are soaring, we must end the absurd tax policy that allows about one-quarter of large, profitable corporations to pay nothing in federal income taxes.
- At a time when the federal treasury is losing over $100 billion annually because the wealthy and large corporations are stashing their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, we must pass real tax reform that ends this outrage.
- At a time when we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we must cut defense spending. There is also waste in other governmental agencies which must be eliminated.
Now, is the time to hold Democrats accountable and ensure that we do deficit reduction in a way that is fair, while also protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Let me be clear. Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit because it is funded independently by the payroll tax. In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund today, according to the Social Security Administration, has a $2.7 trillion surplus and can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years. Social Security, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, must be protected.
Poll after poll shows that the American people want to see deficit reduction done in a way that is fair. They do not want to see cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while millionaires, billionaires and large corporations continue to receive huge tax breaks.
In my view, if the Republicans continue to play an obstructionist role, the president should get out of the Oval Office and travel the country. If he does that, I believe that he will find that there is no state in the country, including those that are very red, where people believe that we should give huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Right now, the Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year. That means the only way that Republicans can extend tax breaks for the wealthy and cut vital programs is if Democrats let them.
Sadly, virtually all Republicans and some Democrats are too willing to do deficit reduction in a way that hurts those who are already hurting.
I look forward to working with President Obama and all members of Congress to do deficit reduction in a way that finally asks the wealthiest people in our country to pay their fair share, and that recognizes the needs of working families.
Despite the fact that we just won a major electoral victory over Big Money, Wall Street CEOs, big corporations and the millionaires and billionaires are not giving up. Defeating them will take a major grass-roots effort with millions of people getting involved in this fight.
Please, stand with me today.
Senator Bernie Sanders