To Cut Debt, Sanders Says Raise Taxes

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(Host) Senator Bernie Sanders says it’s critical to include tax increases as part of a package to reduce the nation’s debt. House Republican leaders say they’ll strongly oppose any plan that includes tax hikes and Sanders is urging President Obama and the Democrats to stand up to the Republicans on this issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) If Congress doesn’t pass a bill raising the nation’s debt ceiling by August 2nd, the United States might be forced to default on some of its financial obligations. No one really knows what the impact of a default would be, although a number of economists say it could trigger another deep recession in this country.

To avoid this possibility, Vice President Biden has been meeting with House Republican leaders in an effort to put together a compromise plan to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.

But those negotiations have hit a roadblock because House Republican leader Eric Cantor has cancelled all future meetings. Cantor says he won’t meet with the Democrats until they drop their insistence that some tax increases be included in the final package.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders says it’s important for the Democrats to take a firm stand on this issue.

(Sanders) "I do know that the President and the Democratic leadership have got to stand up to the Republicans and say enough is enough. The middle class is in serious trouble, poverty is increasing, and we are not going to balance the budget on the backs of working families."

Sanders is convinced that most Americans will support higher taxes on wealthy people and corporations.

(Sanders) "Every poll that I have seen suggests that when you ask people about deficit reduction the first area that they think makes sense is to ask the wealthiest people in this country to pay their fair share of taxes and to do away with loopholes that corporations are taking advantage of. The fact that the Republicans refuse to move one iota in that direction is unacceptable."

And Sanders says he wants to see the President take a pro-active role in defending the plan to raise taxes on a select group of individuals and businesses.

(Sanders) "We are in a recession right now ordinary people are hurting many people are just hanging on by their fingertips and to cut programs lifeline programs that people need is morally unacceptable to me and I hope the President stands up and rallies the American people on what the evidence is very clear they already believe in."

Sanders says he supports a package that includes a balance of tax increases and cuts in federal spending.

He says it should be possible to make sizeable cuts in the budget of the Defense Department without endangering national security. Sanders says he won’t vote for any plan that includes cuts in benefits to Medicare or Medicaid.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.



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